Even as the flood waters recede from most parts of the state, Kerala Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala has held the Pinarayi Vijayan-led government responsible for the worst floods in the state in over a century. Speaking at a press meet on Wednesday, Chennithala alleged mismanagement by the government in opening the shutters of the 44 dams which were filling up in the state.
Calling it a 'man made disaster', he has even demanded a judicial probe and prosecution of those responsible."Leave the scientists, even the people started asking the authorities to open the dam shutters when the water level rose to 2325 feet," he said referring to the opening of the Cheruthoni dam shutters in Idukki.
Accusing the government of not taking prompt action despite weather forecasts by the MeT department, he said "They did not have proper protocol, warning system, flood management system in place. Had they heeded the warning, we could have reduced the impact of the floods."
Drawing parallels to the 2013 floods in Kerala, Chennithala even stated that a disaster was avoided due to prompt action taken by the then Oommen Chandy-led-Congress government.
"In 2013, during the south-west monsoon, though Idukki dam was full, it was not opened, instead other small dams were opened. Besides, there was no rain forecast then. Aryadan Muhammed, who was the Minister for Electricity and Transport then, anticipated the situation, heeded the warning and did the needful. That is disaster management."
The Opposition Leader had chosen to keep politics aside during the floods, focussing on relief and rescue operations at the time. Ramesh Chennithala had even been on the same aerial survey as Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan earlier this month, with several political observers lauding the two political parties for setting aside their differences during the floods.
More than 350 people have been killed in the monsoons since June this year, while over 10 lakh people were displaced. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had called it the worst floods the state has witnessed in over a century.
Several questions have been raised by experts over whether water should have been discharged earlier from dams such as the Cheruthoni dam in Idukki. Water levels at several dams in Kerala were touching peak levels by mid-July. However, Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB), which operates several dams including Cheruthoni dam, chose to open the shutters only in August. In Cheruthoni Dam’s case, the shutters were opened on August 10, after 26 years.
Kerala received an excess of more than 30% rainfall this year, with districts like Idukki recording a large excess of 70%.
Watch the press meet here: