Land, buildings, even house: A Kerala family that gives all for development
For its members have time and again donated their property, including their houses, to set up as many as 20 government offices and other establishment.
IDUKKI: In a society where social status is measured in terms of assets owned and encroachments, even unintentional, spark rivalries spanning generations, a family in Adimali is an anomaly, albeit a remarkable one. For its members have time and again donated their property, including their houses, to set up as many as 20 government offices and other establishment.
“The locality’s development and its people’s welfare were the life-long objectives of my father, late Chacko Ittoop, a teacher-turned-farmer. He gave away his assets, including his house, to set up government offices, a school and other centres,” Chacko’s eldest son Jacob Ittoop told TNIE.
Since Chacko was the the first president of Mannamkandam panchayat, now Adimali panchayat, the local body’s office was the first government establishment to start in the two-storey building he owned in the town. That was in the 1960s. Chacko also gave away one of the rooms for the village office. In the following years, whenever non-availability of land and buildings became a stumbling block in setting up other department offices in the hill town, Chacko willingly offered pieces of his land and buildings.
“A veterinary hospital was a long-term demand of people in Adimali who were engaged in cattle rearing and farming back then. When the authorities could not find a suitable building for the hospital, my father handed over the house we were staying in,” he said. Though the family comprising Chacko, his wife and three children shifted to a new house in Adimali, it too was handed over to the postal department to open a post office.
Over the years, Chacko provided land and buildings to set up 20 government offices, including that of the coffee board, minor irrigation department and excise department, besides a court, the MG University information office, a school, a tribal hostel as well as spaces for social and political organisations. “Our father always told us to live a simple life. He didn’t even pierce my sister Ruby’s ears and allow her to wear gold ornaments. We built a new house only after my brother Reji got married,” Jacob said.
When several residents died in the landslide at the hill town in 1974, Chacko and his family provided the facility in their homestead to bury 18 victims, recalled Jacob. Even after Chacko died in 2005, the services provided by the Ancheril family to the community continued. Recently, when revenue authorities required land to start the smart village office in Adimali, Reji handed over a portion of his holding. “Development was our father’s dream. As his children we want to pursue it,” Jacob said.