Kerala Rains, Gates of Idukki Opened: With predictions by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) of a fresh bout of heavy rainfall in Kerala starting Wednesday, as a precautionary measure, water was released from the Idukki reservoir at around 11 am Tuesday. This is the second time in three years that water has been released from the reservoir, the largest in the state and one of the highest arch dams in Asia.
Since the reservoir itself does not have shutters, two sluice gates of the Cheruthoni dam, part of the reservoir, were opened by 50 cm to release 100 cumecs of water. The first sluice gate, out of the five, was lifted at 11.05 am, followed by the second at 11.55 am. The water level at the time of opening was 2,398.04 ft.
When the shutters are opened, water will first reach the Cheruthoni river through the spillway and join the Periyar river at Vellakayam. Subsequently, the water will travel through areas like Thadiyambad and Karimban, followed by Chelachuvadu, Keerithodu and Pambla forest areas to reach the Lower Periyar dam. The water will travel through Neriamangalam, Bhoothathankettu and Idamalayar dams to reach Ernakulam district. In anticipation of the opening of the Idukki reservoir, shutters of the Bhoothathankettu and Idamalayar dams had already been opened for smooth flow of water.
By Tuesday evening, around 4 pm, the water is expected to flow through Periyar and its tributaries by panchayats adjoining Aluva town like Keezhmad and Chengamanad and finally join the Arabian Sea.
The decision to open the shutters of the Cheruthoni dam, as well as the Idamalayar and Pamba dams, on Tuesday was taken by a high-level committee appointed by the state government to look into the technical aspects of the water level in the dams and the impact it would have on settlements alongside the rivers.
The district administrations in Idukki and Ernakulam started evacuating dozens of families living on the banks of the Periyar, relocating them temporarily to shelter camps on Monday night itself. Regular updates are being posted on the official Facebook page of Ernakulam Collector Jafar Malik for public awareness.
The Cheruthoni dam shutters were last opened in 2018 during the “once-in-a-century” floods that year. There was major criticism that the dam shutters were opened quite late and in haste without giving adequate warnings to the people. The sudden rise in water levels in the Periyar following the opening of the dam shutters had inundated villages and settlements, leading to many deaths and damage to property.
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