Idukki/Thiruvananthapuram, August 10
With heavy rain continuing in Idukki, the authorities in Kerala were forced to open the remaining two more floodgates of the nearly overflowing Idamalayar dam on Friday afternoon, even as the death toll reached 27 in the state.
Rain in the rest of the flood-ravaged state has come down, a Met official said.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is closely monitoring the situation and has cancelled all his engagements. He is staying put in his office in Thiruvananthapuram, coordinating with the various district authorities and the Kerala State Electricity Board, which controls the dam.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh earlier had a word with Vijayan on the phone. Both took stock of the situation on hand as the Centre assured the state of all possible assistance.
"Spoke to Kerala CM Shri Pinarayi Vijayan and discussed the prevailing flood situation in the state. I have assured all possible assistance from the Centre to the state government. The relief and rescue ops are going on. MHA is closely monitoring the flood situation," Singh tweeted.
The Home Minister will undertake a survey of the flood affected areas in Kerala on Sunday, a Home Ministry spokesperson said.
With all the five floodgates of the Idukki dam opened, water is rushing down the Periyar lake causing huge loss to the crops and properties.
The worst affected is the Cheruthoni town, located nearest to the dam.
Since the dam was last opened in 1992, a lot of encroachments have taken place across the banks of the river. Agricultural activities and houses have come up in the area.
Around 200 families who live on the sides of the river, have already been evacuated to safety as a matter of abundant caution.
The waters are all set to reach parts of Ernakulam and Thrissur district, and the district authorities in these two places are on a high alert.
It was on Thursday when the water level crossed 2,399 metres and one of the shutters was opened after a gap of 26 years. On Friday morning the authorities were forced to open two more shutters as the water level touched 2,401m.
But with heavy rains continuing unabated in and around the catchment area of the dam, the authorities were forced to open the remaining two.
As a result, the Cheruthoni bridge has come under severe stress with huge trees that have been uprooted coming and hitting the bridge.
The authorities have decided that the decision to keep open all the five floodgates will be for a specified period of time.
The Army is already involved in rescue-relief and damage control exercises in several districts in the state.
Several districts in the state have been receiving heavy rains since Wednesday. Till Thursday 24 people had died, while three more deaths were reported on Friday.
Earlier, Kerala Power Minister M.M. Mani who hails from Idukki, told the media there that the decision to open more shutters of the Idamalayar dam was taken to prevent the water level from reaching its full strength of 2,403 metres.
Mani had then also said: “This is not going to create any issue as we are soon planning to close down the shutters. We are confident that things can be controlled.” State Revenue Minister E. Chandrasekheran, who is camping in Ernakulam and coordinating the activities said five teams of the Army were taking part in the damage control exercises in Idukki, Wayanad, Kozhikode, Malappuram.
“The central team is also here to assess the damages that were caused by the rains in July. Now that they are witness to the current situation—widespread destruction of crops and property, we are hopeful that they will be able to speed up their reports,” said Chandrasekheran. — Agencies