As Cyclone Tauktae intensifies, shutters of 11 dams opened in Kerala

The Kerala government has issued a red warning for May 15 (Saturday) for five districts.
Representational image of a cyclone
Representational image of a cyclone
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The shutters of 11 dams across Kerala have been opened as of May 15. Kerala has been experiencing heavy rains since May 13 as the deep depression formed over Lakshadweep in the Arabian Sea has intensified into a cyclonic storm (named Tauktae), majorly affecting the coastal areas in the state. A high-level alert has been sounded for five districts for May 15. The dams that have been opened are irrigation reservoirs that are managed by the Kerala Irrigation Department. The Idukki dam shutters will not be opened, said the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) dam safety wing officials.

According to an update at 11 am on May 15, the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) said 11 reservoirs have been opened. These reservoirs are two Neyyar reservoirs in Thiruvananthapuram, Kuttiyadi in Kozhikode, Karapuzha in Wayanad, Siruvani in Palakkad, Kallada in Kollam, Kanjirappuzha in Palakkad, Peechi in Thrissur, Maniyar in Pathanamthitta, Bhoothathankettu (barrage) in Ernakulam and Moolathara (regulator) in Palakkad. Of these, 417 cumecs (cubic metre per second) of water will be released from Bhoothathankettu, while 122.96 cumecs of water will be released from the Maniyar reservoir. Two out six shutters of the Malankara dam in Idukki have been opened at 10 cm. As part of precautionary measures, water will be released in a controlled manner from these reservoirs, said KSDMA. 

Meanwhile, the KSEB dam safety wing officials said that the water level in the Idukki reservoir on May 15 (Saturday) was 2333.52 feet. "At present, there is no need to open the shutters of Idukki, including the major dams. The present water level in the state's hydel dams is very low on the 'rule curve'. To open the first gate of the Idukki dam, the water level should reach 2,373 feet. The water level in the Idukki dam is 2,333.58 feet, which is 39.4% of the total storage capacity," said a KSEB official.   

On May 14, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) issued a five-day forecast for district-wise rainfall over Kerala and Lakshadweep. The rainfall is predicted to last till May 18. IMD has given the Red warning colour code for May 15 for five districts: Kasaragod, Kannur, Kozhikode, Wayanad and Malappuram. The Red warning colour code indicates that the officials should take action. The Kerala government has also issued a red warning for May 15 (Saturday) for these five districts. 

The IMD has also warned that squally wind speed reaching 50-60 kilometre per hour, gusting to 70 kmph along and off the Kerala-Karnataka coasts will be seen on May 15, Saturday.

Even though the depression is approximately around 290 km away from Kannur, on account of the heavy rains across the state and with the sea turning rough, the state government has been forced to open numerous camps across the state to move people to safety.

According to the Indian Meteorological Department, Tauktae is very likely to intensify further into a severe cyclonic storm during the next 24 hours and expected to move north-north-westwards and reach near the Gujarat coast by May 18 morning.

Kerala Chief Minister-designate Pinarayi Vijayan has informed the preparedness of the state in facing any calamity arising out of the cyclonic storm.

"Even though Kerala is not in the predicted path of the cyclone, heavy rains, strong winds and strong sea gusts are expected in the State till May 16. We should exercise utmost caution in coastal districts and adjoining districts where the Meteorological Department has issued a Red and Orange alert," said Pinarayi Vijayan and appealed to all, to cooperate with the authorities and move out to camps whenever told.

Even though no casualties have been reported, the rain and the rough sea has caused innumerable hardships to the people, who are already battling the COVID-19 pandemic. The worst affected on account of the rough sea include the coastal hamlets in the state capital, parts of Kollam, Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasargod.

Since May 14 night, a huge number of trees have been uprooted and the power supply disrupted for long hours on account of the high-speed winds and heavy rain. In many places, the supply was restored on May 15, while in few places, it's yet to be restored.

(With input from IANS)

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