As the Meteorological Department forecast heavy to very heavy rain in eight of 14 districts of Kerala for the next four days, the government on Saturday urged its machinery and people to be on high alert.
The toll in the unprecedented rain, which has lashed the state since August 8, rose to 37, with eight more incidents of drowning reported on Saturday. However, the total number of people in relief camps in various districts came down from 53,500 on Friday to 35,874 as a section of the affected people returned home as the flood retreated from many areas.
After conducting an aerial survey of the flood-hit regions with cabinet colleagues and senior bureaucrats, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that alertness should be maintained until August 15. “It is a major relief that the water level in the two biggest dams, Idukki and Edamalayar, has come down slightly. However, the forecast about heavy rain in the coming days should be taken seriously,” he said.
Official sources at the Kerala Disaster Management Authority said the districts of Idukki and Wayanad have sounded a red alert among the eight districts. “The death toll has risen from 29 to 37 in a day. However, today’s death cases were separate incidents of drowning in swollen water bodies. No fresh cases of landslide-related death was reported on Saturday. In the last three days, crops on over 1,430 hectares of land perished in the flood. The exact figure of loss can be assessed only after water subsides,’’ sources said.
The worst-hit Idukki, Ernakulam and Wayanad districts got some relief on Saturday after three consecutive days of torrential rains. The water level in Idukki dam, which has a maximum storage level of 2,403 ft, came down by 1 ft from 2,401 ft on Friday.
However, the discharge continued to be maintained at 750 cubic metre per second to bring down the water level in the dam. As rains took a break since Friday night, the low-lying areas along the Periyar river in Ernakulam district did not report flooding.