As the water level in Kerala’s Idukki reservoir came closer its full storage level, the government on Monday night issued an orange alert in three districts of Idukki, Ernakulam and Kottayam, which are likely to bear the brunt in the event of the dam shutters being opened.
One of the largest arch dams in Asia, the Idukki reservoir’s maximum storage level is 2,403 ft. On Monday night, the storage level reached 2,395 ft, prompting the government to sound the alert. The corresponding level on this day last year was only 2,320 ft.
Commissioned in 1975, the dam shutters were opened only twice, the last time in 1992. On both occasions, they were opened during the north-east monsoon in October-November. But the incessant rains during the current southwest monsoon has left the dam brimming.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the state disaster management authority had taken all steps to tackle the situation if the Idukki reservoir shutters are opened. The Coast Guard, Army, Navy and Air Force have been asked to be alert. Four columns each of the Navy and Army are ready for deployment if required, said the CM.
State Disaster Management Authority member secretary Sekhar Kuriakose said there was no need to panic, and the dam shutters would be opened only 24 hours after declaring red alert. Red alert will be issued when the storage level reaches 2,399 ft.
The district administrations in Idukki and Ernakulam have identified persons to be relocated in a flood-like situation. Before lifting the shutters, there will be trial run of the same, which is likely on Wednesday.
Idukki District Collector Jeevan Babu said the decision on opening shutters for the trial run would be taken after reviewing inflow of water to the dam and rain in the catchment area. All steps have been taken to ensure safety of people, he said.