The Kerala government has decided to open the dam shutters of the Idukki reservoir on Thursday at 12:30 pm, following rising water levels due to incessant rains in the district. The water level in the reservoir at 10 am on Thursday stood at 2398.80 feet, with the reservoir hitting full capacity at 2403 feet.
The State authorities had announced that the dam will only be opened once the reservoir hits 2399 feet and a red alert is announced. However, with the water quickly rising to the stipulated level, a high-level meeting with the CM has decided to open the shutters on a trial run basis.
According to reports, the middle shutter of the Cheruthoni dam which has 5 sluice gates will be opened first. The main Idukki dam has no shutters or openings and the water can only be released through the Cheruthoni dam where it will flow into the Cheruthoni river, a tributary of the Periyar.
One shutter of the Cheruthoni dam will be opened at 12:30 pm. The shutters will only be opened 50 centimeters for 4 hours. The trial run will be heavily monitored by the KSDMA and KSEB (Kerala State Electricity Board - the body responsible for the Idukki dam).
An official statement released by the authorities informed that "all residents living along 100 metres of the dam are to lock their houses and relocate to a safe location by 11:30 am". Residents living along the lower areas of the river will be reloacted to a play arranged by the village officer and their stay too will be taken care of, the release stated.
The authorities instructed residents to keep all their valuables and certificates safe and instructed people to not crowd around the banks of the river.
The KSEB issues three levels of alert. Code Green for when the water level in Idukki hit 2390 feet and Code Orange when the levels rose to 2395 feet. With the water level rising to 2399 feet, the reservoir only has 4 feet more to hit maximum capacity, a red alert will be issued and the dam shutters will be opened.
Residents along the banks of the river have been alerted and evacuated following the opening of the shutters.
The State Disaster Management Authority and NDRF have rescue teams station in Idukki and Aluva in Ernakulam. Army, Navy and Airforce and Coast Guard personnel too have been roped in. The SDMA has readied an Mi17V helicopter and an ALH helicopter in case people have to be rescued.
Four columns of the Navy and Air Force have been deployed to handle any crisis situation. Rescue boats have been stationed to undertake operations in the low lying areas of Ernakulam which are prone to flooding, CM Pinarayi Vijayan announced via Facebook.