Death toll in Kerala rain-ravage rise to 28, army & coast guard joins rescue operations


(Online Desk)

With the water level rising alarmingly in the Idukki reservoir, the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) has opened five shutters of the Cheruthony Dam, which is part of the Idukki Dam project on Friday to release excess inflow of water owing to heavy rainfall in the catchment areas of the reservoir in the past many days.

The shutters of the dam, which had not been opened since 1992 owing to the lack of monsoon shower in the catchment area of the reservoir that spreads over 649.3 km2 (251 sq mi), were opened after 26 years.

“The rate of flow into the dam is recorded at 521 cumecs per second (5, 21000 litres per second), at 12 pm on Friday” said KSEB executive engineer Chandrasekharan. “Two more shutters were opened on Friday morning when the water level in the reservoir crossed 2400 ft of the full reservoir level of 2403 ft,” he said.

First shutter was opened on Thursday at 12.30 pm as water level crossed 2399 ft.

The full reservoir level is 2,403 feet and storage capacity is 69,268 Mcft and storage percentage is 97.61 per cent.

The South-west monsoon has been vigorous over Kerala resulting in heavy rains in various parts of the state since the past two days.

A 47-year-old man drawing water was killed when the well caved in due to heavy rain at Palavila near Pirappancode on Friday morning taking the death toll due to the rains to 27.

The death toll includes 11 in high range Idukki in landslips yesterday as rain continued to pound the southern state. Idukki has received 129. 80 mm rainfall.

With water levels rising in various dams and reaching almost maximum capacity, shutters of at least 22 reservoirs in the state have been opened to drain out excess water.

As water gushed out of the Idukki dam, low lying areas in Cheruthoni including Karimban and Thadiyambad were inundated. Some houses on the banks of the river were flooded. The inmates of these houses were shifted to relief camps. Relief camps were opened at Keerithodu and Murikkassery near Cheruthoni. According to KSEB officers, the Idukki dam is receiving an inflow of 455 cumecs on Friday morning, while the outflow is only 125 cumecs. As the water level in the dam has touched 2401 feet, more water has to be released to avoid overflowing. A decision will be taken only after reviewing the flood situation downstream.

Meanwhile, Cheruthoni police have diverted vehicle traffic on Kattappana Road through Karimban – Thopramkudi road as the bridge at Cheruthoni may submerge if more water is released. The water is flowing 3 feet below the Cheruthoni bridge. The water release has caused extensive damage to crops.

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 4 shutters of the Idamalayar dam were opened yesterday.

According to Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) bulletin at 8 am, thunderstorms accompanied by gusty winds are likely to affect Idukki, Pathanamthitta and Wayanad districts.

The government has asked tourists not to go to high range areas and dam sites.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had described the flood situation in the state as “very grim” and it was for the first time in the history of the state that 24 dams had been opened at a time following the water level reaching maximum capacity.

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.

“Spoke to Kerala CM Shri Pinarayi Vijayan and discussed the situation arising due to floods in various parts of the state. Offered all possible assistance to those affected. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Kerala in the wake of this calamity,” the PM said in a tweet.

The personnel of Army, Coast Guard and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been carrying rescue and relief operations in the flood-hit areas.