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Pallithanam Luca Matthai also known as Pallithanathu Mathaichan was one of the greatest sons of Kuttanad and is considered to be a pioneer of the cooperative agricultural movement in Kuttanadu. He was born in 1880 in Kainady village, Kuttanad, British India. His father, Mathai Luca Pallithanam, was among the pioneers of kayal cultivation (reclamation of cultivable land from the Vembanad Lake) in Kuttanad.

He spearheaded the reclamation activities of more than one-third of the total Kayal Nilam's (cultivable land reclaimed from the Vembanad Lake). Starting with the reclamation of Cherukara Kayal. In 1898-1904, he reclaimed the Pallithanam Moovayiram Kayal and Madathil Kayal but could not progress further because of a ban on reclamation imposed by the Travencore Raja in 1904. That ban was removed in 1914, after which Matthai and some other prominent families in Kuttanadu, reclaimed more of the lake.

Matthai served as member of the Moolam Thirunal of Travancore's Praja Sabha (Popular Assembly). In 1931 he founded Kuttandu Karshaka Sangham to strengthen the farming community in Kuttanad. He spearheaded the debt relief struggle that resulted in the enactment of the Agricultural Debt Relief Act.

Our Lady of Dolours Church in Kainady village was built on land donated by him. He established a primary school in Kainady in 1921 using his influence as a member of the Praja Sabha, and in the initial years he acted as the manager of it. This school was later named as A J John Memorial High School.

Matthai was among the founders of the All-Kerala Catholic Congress. Even though he belonged to an aristocratic and orthodox Syrian Christian family, he actively supported his contemporary and great social reformer Ayyankali in his efforts in eradicating the social inequalities that were prevalent in the Kerala society. He died on Christmas Day, 1962.