Palakkad: Marimuthu was a busy toddy tapper in the area when party leaders asked him to contest the local body elections to the Perumatty grama panchayat in Palakkad district around two years ago.
He won the election and went on to become the panchayat president. But he did not let that success get to his head. About one-and-a-half years after assuming office, he resumed his traditional occupation in order to supplement his income and repay a housing loan.
According to Marimuthu, he decided to carry on with toddy tapping to make up for his paltry salary.
“I earn around Rs 13,000 per month, including honorarium and allowance, from my job as panchayat president, but that is not enough to run the family,” says the thirty-three-year-old, who chose a righteous way to supplement his income when there are easy ways for a people’s representative to make quick money.
It was Janata Dal (S) leader K Krishnankutty MLA and other party workers who nominated Marimuthu, a ward-level activist of the party’s youth wing, as a candidate for the local body elections. He contested from Ward No. 11 (Meenakshpuram town) and won with a majority of 184 votes. As the president post was reserved for Scheduled Castes, Marimuthu got the chance to head the panchayat.
The new responsibilities forced him to give up his traditional occupation, which he had been doing for over a decade.
In the meantime, he renovated his three-room house and it put a huge financial burden on him. As he found it difficult to repay the housing loan with his earnings, Marimuthu returned to the coconut farm at Srambi near Meenakshipuram to once again engage in toddy tapping.
His day starts at 3. 30 am every day. For the next two hours, Marimuthu would be busy climbing tall coconut trees and extracting toddy. After returning home, he would go to collect fodder grass for his cattle. He would sleep for a while before going to the panchayat office at 10 am. After discharging his official duties and attending meetings, he would return home in the evening. At 6.30 pm, he will once again head to the coconut farm with a plastic pot tied across his back.
Every day, he makes an additional income of Rs 700 by climbing around 30 trees.
Marimuthu, who dropped out of the Meenakshipuram Government School in the fifth grade, joined the literacy project of the State Literacy Mission and cleared the 7th and 10th standard equivalency examinations a couple of years ago.
He lives with his mother Thankamony, wife Sumithra and sister Devaki. His father Gopalan died a few years ago.
Asked about the pathetic condition of the road leading to his house, Marimuthu said: “The panchayat has drawn up a road development plan. It will be repaired soon.”
Read more: Latest Kerala news