KOCHI: Hassankutty (70) of Puthenpurayil house in Adimali, stood witness to the dance of death in the wee hours of August 9, 2018, which claimed the lives of five members of his family, including two kids.
The family, including Hassankutty’s wife Pathumma, son Mujeeb, daughter-in-law Shemeena and grand children Diya and Niya, had gone to bed at 1 am. Shemeena’s relative Sainudeen, who arrived the previous day, was also present in the four-bedroom house.
At around 2.51 am, huge boulders and mud came crashing down the hill, flattening the house in nanoseconds. All except Hassankutty and Sainudeen were crushed to death. The debris fell on the National Highway in front of the house, blocking vehicle traffic through the stretch. The mangled remains of two cars parked in front of the house bore testimony to the tragedy.
Neighbours who rushed to the spot found Hassankutty and Sainudeen screaming for help on the roadside. Hassankutty, who suffered multiple fractures on his left leg, has been undergoing treatment for the past one year and, according to doctors, it will take one more year for him to walk.
“I was rushed to a private hospital in Aluva, where I underwent multiple surgeries. I spent 58 days in the private hospital and had to spend Rs 9 lakh for treatment. Later, I was shifted to Adimali Taluk Hospital, where I underwent another surgery last week also. I have to take two injections worth Rs 800 every day. The cost of the medicine itself comes to Rs 48,000 a month,” said Hassankutty.
“The government had provided Rs 20 lakh as compensation for the loss of lives. I used the amount to settle a Rs 18-lakh loan. However, the authorities did not give compensation for the loss of property and the house as I didn’t possess a title deed. I had been staying there for 20 years and used to pay Rs 800 as property tax. Now, I am burdening my younger son Shaji for my treatment,” he said.
Hassankutty alleged that the construction of a road on the uphill path by the panchayat had triggered the landslide. “They had dug up the slope for construction of the road and erected a pillar without proper reinforcement. It fell on my house leading to the tragedy,” he said.
The foundation of the house of Shiju, a carpenter, located 250 m above Hassankutty’s house, was also damaged in the landslide. The family has been living in a rented house ever since the tragedy. Adimali panchayat authorities, who shifted the family from the damaged house, refused to pay compensation. “The house was built availing a bank loan of Rs 8 lakh. Now, the authorities refuse to grant us permission to live in the house. They had assured to bear the rental expenses, but we didn’t get a penny from the government,” rued Soumya, wife of Shiju.
Panchayat’s road building sparked tragedy
ADIMALI: Hassankutty alleged that the construction of a road on the uphill path by the panchayat had triggered the landslide. According to him, a slope was dug up for the purpose without proper reinforcement and it caved in on my house.