As India is celebrating the 73rd Republic Day, Idukki in Kerala is amidst the festivities to mark the 50th year of the formation of the district. The district, which has the charm and vigour of a teeny-bopper, came into existence on January 26, 1972 following the Kerala Government order on January 24, 1972.
The name Idukki was derived from the Malayalam word ‘Idukku’ meaning gorge. Initially, the district was known as ‘Idikki’ in official records and the appellation was changed to ‘Idukki’ through a Revenue Department order on January 11, 1972.
The Idukki district was carved out of Kottayam and Ernakulam districts. The new district was formed by including Udumbanchola and Peeramedu taluks of the Kottayam district and Thodupuzha and Devikulam taluks in the Ernakulam district. But the regions near Pampa valley, and Sabarimala sannidhanan and places adjoining the holy hill shrine, which were part of Mlappara village of Peeramedu taluk, were merged with Pathanamthitta district in 1982.
The Idukki district, which is spread across 4,358 sq km, is the second-largest district in Kerala. Presently, the district has two revenue divisions -- Idukki and Devikulam; five taluks -- Devikulam, Udumbanchola, Idukki, Thodupuzha and Peeramedu; and 67 villages.
The district also has 52 grama panchayats, including India’s only tribal village Idamalakkudi, in eight block panchayats and two municipalities – Thodupuzha and Kattapana. Though initially, the district headquarters was in Kottayam, the administrative seat was later shifted to Kuyilimala.
As per the census of 2011, Idukki, which is known for its verdant forest, has a population of 11,08,974 with a density of 254 per sq km.
Dr D Babu Paul was the first collector of Idukki and served the district from January 26, 1972 to August 19, 1975. To date, the district had 40 collectors and the current district collector is Sheeba George.
A paradise for agriculture
Though farming centred on food crops in the initial days, now the Idukki farmers are cultivating cash crops such as pepper, cardamom, tea, coffee, nutmeg, coconut and rubber along with food crops. Idukki is the only district in Kerala indulging in garlic farming and the Marayoor jaggery from the district has the prestigious Geographical Indication (GI) tag.
Idukki with its alluring natural beauty has always been the sought-after destination of tourists. The arch dam in Idukki is the highest in Asia and second-highest in the world. The district is dotted with numerous exotic tourist spots such as Munnar, Thekkady, and the Eravikulam National Park, known for Nilgiri Tahr. The other destinations that are attracting travellers in droves are Ramakkalmedu, Panchalimedu, Anayirangal, Mattupetty, Thooval, Thoovanam, Kuttungal waterfalls and Aruvikuzhi, among others.
Development should continue
The district has made giants strides in the fields of education and health. As many as 478 schools are functioning under the educational districts of Thodupuzha and Kattappana in the mountainous district. The state’s only government English medium school, the Gandhiji English Medium School, is at Erattayar in the district. The district also boasts of many government and government-aided colleges.
In a bid to provide superlative health care, the district has a medical college, four taluk hospitals and many family health care centres and primary health centres apart from private hospitals. The district also has Ayurveda and Homoeopathy hospitals.
Though the devastating floods of 2108 and 2019, and the COVID-19 pandemic could have had a debilitating effect on the district, the Rebuild Kerala Initiative, the action plans under ‘Nava Kerala’ and the determination of the people of Idukki made sure that the district was on the path of development.
“Idukki and its people have a special place in the heart of Kerala. Everyone has a special care and regard for this place and that will be there in future too,” said Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.