Kerala floods: Red alert in Idukki, 5 columns of Army deployed in northern districts

Twenty-six people have lost their lives since August 8 in landslides and floods caused due to the heavy rains as the South-west monsoon remains vigorous over Kerala.

By: PTI | Thiruvananthapuram | Published: August 10, 2018 3:48:18 pm
An elderly woman is rescued following a flash flood, triggered by heavy rains, at Palakkad in Kerala on Thursday, Aug 9, 2018. (PTI Photo)

In rain battered-Kerala, a red alert has been issued for Idukki and its adjoining districts in view of the possibility of release of more water from the Idukki reservoir, while entry of tourists to the high-range district was stopped after roads caved in at many places. Five columns of Army has been deployed in the state’s northern districts since last night, and small bridges have been constructed to evacuate people stranded at various places in Kozhikode and Wayanad.

The Indian Navy has put on alert its Southern Naval Command in view of the rising water level in the Periyar river and a possible inundation of parts of Wellingdon Island surrounded by the backwaters of Kochi. Twenty-six people have lost their lives since August 8 in landslides and floods caused due to the heavy rains as the South-west monsoon remains vigorous over Kerala.

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The Idukki district administration has restricted tourists from visiting hilly areas and movement of heavy goods carriers also has been restricted. At least 30 tourists, including foreigners stranded at the Plum Judy resort at Munnar since Wednesday as roads are blocked due to landslips, are safe and the Army’s help has been sought, state Tourism minister Kadakampally Surendran said, adding they will be shifted to the KTDC.

People living downstream of Periyar and Cheruthoni rivers have been warned that there is a possibility of inundation of banks as torrential rain pounded the state for the second day in a row. Gates of 24 dams in the state have been opened so far due to rising water level. Three shutters of the Idukki reservoir have already been opened. Two more shutters of the Cheruthoni dam, part of the Idukki reservoir, the biggest arch dam in Asia, were lifted around 7 am today as the water level continued to rise following continuing rains. One shutter was opened yesterday after a gap of 26 years.

The water level in Idukki at 10 am stood at 2,401.34 feet against the Full Reservoir Level (FRL) of 2,403 feet. This morning, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan reviewed the flood situation and relief works being undertaken by the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and the NDRF.

Informing reporters that there is a need to release more water from the Idukki dam in the wake of increase in the water level, he said, “It is essential to release water three times than what was being released now.”

In view of this, water level in the Periyar river and its tributaries will rise. People have to be vigilant, Vijayan said. The Chief Minister, who has cancelled all his public functions till August 12, will monitor the situation from the state capital.

Union minister Alphons Kannamthanam said he discussed the flood situation in Kerala with Home Minister Rajnath Singh this morning. “The Government of India is providing all the required assistance including services of armed forces, disaster management team and other required assistance. Any other immediate assistance requested by the Government of Kerala will be provided,” he said in a Facebook post.

Col Ajai Sharma, the Commandant of DSC Centre, who is overseeing relief and rescue operations, said five columns of Army has been deployed in the northern districts since last night. “The haphazard development along the streams has affected the natural flow of rivers, which is a challenge right now,” he said.

Small bridges have been constructed to evacuate stranded people in various places in Kozhikode and Wayanad areas, and rescue operations are currently underway. “The situation is under control,” he said.

Meanwhile, state Revenue minister E Chandrasekharan reviewed the flood situation and the precautionary measures to be taken in Aluva and nearby areas in view of the possibility of increase in the water level following release of more water from Idukki reservoir.

Periyar river in Aluva is already in spate following release of water from Idamalayar dam and people living in low-lying areas have been asked to be vigilant. Cochin International Airport Limited sources said operations at the airport had not been affected. There was no need to suspend flights and there has been no cancellations.

“The operational area is intact. No cancellation of services so far,” an airport spokesperson said.

According to state disaster control room sources, 241 relief camps have been opened and 15,695 people have been shifted from low-lying areas. Over 5,500 people from Wayanad district, where a red alert had been sounded yesterday, have been shifted to relief camps, the sources said this morning.

In Ernakulam, 3,456 people have been shifted to camps following floods after four shutters of the Idamalayar dam were opened yesterday. The government has asked tourists not to go to high-range areas and dam sites.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke with the Kerala Chief Minister yesterday in the wake of heavy rains and floods in the state, and offered all possible assistance to those affected.

In Palakkad district, the flood waters have started receding today as the quantity of water being released from Malampuzha dam has been reduced and Palakkad town is limping back to normal. However, many areas are still inundated and people were seen trying to save their belongings.

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