Updated: October 19, 2021 10:24:10 am
The Kerala government will open the shutters of the Idukki dam on Tuesday as the state’s largest reservoir, which accounts for more than 93 per cent of its live storage capacity, is rapidly filling up after heavy rain. On Monday, the toll from rain-related incidents rose to 38 since October 12, according to the state disaster management authority.
The state government has sounded an alert in downstream areas of the Idukki dam, including suburban areas of Kochi, and begun evacuating families that could be affected by the likely flash floods.
The decision was taken after the India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecast heavy rain for three days beginning October 20.
The government is also looking to avert a repeat of the devastating flood of 2018 when it delayed a decision to release water from various dams, including the Idukki reservoir — this was cited as one of the reasons for the widespread damage.
Meanwhile, the Navy and NDRF recovered two more bodies from the slush and debris left behind by landslides and flash floods in Idukki district on Monday.
While Idukki dam will be opened at 11 am, a downstream dam, Idamalayar, will be opened at 6 am.
Meanwhile, evacuation has already begun in Kuttanad region, known for its backwater tourism, after several low-lying areas were flooded. People have been told to leave vulnerable areas in the region as the water level is set to rise following the opening of the Kakki dam in Pathanamthitta district. On Tuesday morning, another dam in Pathanamthitta, Pamba, will be opened, leading to rising water levels downstream including Kuttanad.
The opening of all these dams will be staggered to stem the massive downstream flow of the Periyar river and prevent flooding.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said an alert has been sounded and steps are on to shift people to safer locations when dams are opened. The number of relief camps has been increased to 240.
Water Resources Minister Roshi Augustine told the media that two shutters of Idukki dam would be opened by 50 cm to release one lakh liters of water per second. “The decision was taken considering the experiences of the past. We can ease the anxiety of the people by keeping the water level down. The water level at the dam would be maintained between 2395 and 2396 ft as against the full storage level of 2403 ft. At present the water level is at 2397.56 ft. The quantity of discharge would be decided after reviewing the inflow,’’ he said.
The minister said all precautionary measures have been taken and people living along the banks of Periyar river basin have been alerted. Already, 64 families which would be immediately affected by opening dam shutters have been evacuated. All tourism centres in the district, including Munnar, have been closed, he said.
Minister Saji Cheriyan, who is overseeing the relief measures in Alappuzha district, said as the Kakki dam was opened, vigil has been maintained in Chengannur, Pandanad and Thiruvandoor (which had been hit badly in the flood of 2018). Fishermen have been roped in for rescue operations in addition to the two teams of NDRF. “Twenty-three fishermen groups are in the field. Service of more fishermen would be ensured,’’ he said.
Along the basin of Chalakudy river in Thrissur district, people have been evacuated from low-lying areas after Sholayar, Peringalkuthu and Parambikulam dams were opened. In Ernakulam district as well, local governing bodies along the banks of Periyar have been alerted to shift people in the wake of rising waters.
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