Kerala authorities issued an orange alert as the water level in the Idukki dam touched 2,395 feet on Monday night. The Pinarayi Vijayan-led government remains on high alert as persistent rainfall has increased the water level, causing panic among people living in the downstream areas.
The state government has put the army, navy, airforce and coast guard on alert to meet any eventuality in case water is released. Code Orange is the second level of the three alerts issued by the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) to warn those living close to the river.
According to Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA), the water-level touched 2,394.72 feet at 1 pm today against the full level of 2,403 feet.
When the level reaches 2397 ft, there is a possibility of water being released on a trial basis for one or two hours, Kerala State Electricity Board officials informed PTI. This was to find out if there were any obstruction and diversion on the route the water flows, they said.
The reservoir consists of three dams-Idukki, Cheruthoni and Kulamavu, built for the Idukki Hydroelectric Project. The Idukki reservoir’s shutters were last opened in 1992. This is the first time it would attain full-level during the South West Monsoon period. While Idukki dam is used to store water, the two other dams were meant to route water to the powerhouse. Read in Malayalam
Shutters of the Cheruthoni dam will be opened after further evaluation of the water level and rainfall received.
Allaying fears among residents, CM Vijayan said a team of National Disaster Response Force has already been deployed in Ernakulam and Thrissur and another team would reach Idukki. “Army, navy, airforce and coast guard have been asked to be on vigil. Two helicopters have been kept ready. There is no need to panic as of now. The State Disaster Management Authority will give timely directive in this regard,” he said.
“Coast Guard is also ready with small boats to evacuate people if water enters low-lying areas of Ernakulam,” the CM added. People living downstream of the reservoir upto the Lower Periyar area in Ernakulam district have been asked to be vigilant, he said.
In the event of opening the sluice gates of Cheruthoni dam, the water would flow through Ernakulam from Idukki, before reaching the Arabian sea, Vijayan said. According to KSDMA, restrictions have been imposed on tourists visiting some areas near the dam.
With PTI inputs