Torrential rainfall for three straight days has left Kerala struggling to prevent a flood-like situation. To avert a disaster, all shutters of the Idukki Dam in Cheruthoni were opened on Friday afternoon, and for the first time in its history, the outflow from the reservoir is 4.25 lakh litres (4.25 cumecs) per second.
The fifth shutter of the dam on the Cheruthoni River — a major tributary of the Periyar River — was opened after the water in the reservoir continued to rise and hit dangerous levels even after four shutters were opened. Authorities had earlier raised the shutters of three sluice gates, hoping that this would do away with the need to open more shutters, but to no avail. They have now decided to increase the water being released from the dam in phases to 700 cumecs.
The Cheruthoni River has been overflowing since all the five shutters of the Idukki Dam — one of the largest arch dams in Asia — were opened to release the excess water building up in the reservoir. A very high alert was issued along the banks of the Periyar as evacuation operations began in Cheruthoni.
District authorities began to evacuate 140 families from the town to relief camps on Friday morning. With all shutters of the dam now open, a 50-member team of the National Disaster Response Force is leading the rescue operations.
Cheruthoni has been inundated since four shutters of the Idukki Dam were opened on Friday morning, discharging 3 cumecs of water per second at the time. A bridge on the Periyar River in the town was completely destroyed by the force of the gushing waters.
The Kerala government has banned tourism in Idukki district because of the unabated rainfall. State Tourism Minister Kadkampally Surendran said that the tourists holed up in the district will be evacuated to safe places in neighbouring districts.
In Ernakulam district, too, the administration has asked people living on the banks of the Periyar to move to relief camps or other safe places as the areas are likely to get flooded with water released from the dam, especially in Aluva and Kalamaserry.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is overseeing the rescue efforts and has cancelled all commitments outside Thiruvananthapuram till 12 August. He chaired a review meeting to assess the situation. "The meeting expressed satisfaction at the flood relief efforts being carried out by the army, navy, air force, NDRF and Coast Guard," the Kerala Chief Minister's Office said.
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Updated Date: Aug 10, 2018 15:18:41 IST