The water level in the dam has not yet crossed the dangerous limit, however early preparations are being made to avoid a dire situation, said District Collector Nooh.

Two shutters of Pampa dam are opened are water flows out of it. In the background is blue sky
news Kerala Rains 2020 Sunday, August 09, 2020 - 16:26

In its preparations to face a flood situation, Pathanamthitta district in Kerala is opening the Pampa dam by Sunday noon. District Collector PB Nooh informed people of the decision to open the dam on a Facebook Live, while ensuring people that as of now, there is no reason to worry. “The district is receiving moderate rainfall and the water level in Pampa dam is only 983.5m now. Normally, a red alert is issued when the level reaches 984.5m and the instruction to open the dam is given when it touches 985m,” Nooh said.

“The reason we decided to open the dam in advance is to avoid a situation of having to open it in the midnight hours when the rain, if it goes on in the same strength, will increase the water level to the maximum capacity of the reservoir which is 986.33m,” Nooh said.

The six shutters of the dam will be opened by raising them up to two feet each. If the reservoir reaches its full level, the shutters will need to be raised by six to eight feet. It is to avoid such a situation that the early opening of the dam is done, Nooh said.

“When the shutter is raised by two feet, the water in the Pampa river would rise by 40 cm. The water will reach Ranni town five hours after opening the dam, after passing through Kannamala, Athikkayam, Perumadu and Vadasherikara. After reaching Ranni, it will flow to Kozhencherry, Aranmula, Chengannur and Thiruvalla. It should reach Thiruvalla by tomorrow noon,” the Collector said.

The water level in the Manimala and Achankovil rivers has crossed dangerous limits with 8.15 m and 10.63 m respectively. “That is the water from the rains, and not dam water. People in Pathanamthitta and Panthalam towns should exercise more caution. Officials from the revenue administration, local self government and the police would be contacting those who would need to move to relief camps. Kindly cooperate with them,” Nooh explained. 

He told people that there is no need for fear about a big rise in water, like it happened in the past two years during the July-August floods. A controlled method of opening the dams will ensure that such a situation will not arise, he said.

Preparations with boats, camps, rescue teams

The Indian Meteorological Department has issued a yellow warning for the district on Sunday – meaning, people should be on the watch; and green warning for Monday – meaning no action needed. But it could change in the coming days and preparations are being made for a dire situation.

“Ten boats have been sourced from Kollam, five each for Ranni and Kozhencherry. Fifteen more boats are requested. This will help us to be prepared without causing any delay for evacuation (of people in flooded areas) if needed. Considering an emergency situation of water rising to dangerous levels, a team of the NDRF (National Disaster Response Force) is ready with 22 trained members and six boats. There is also the fire force team with five rubber dinghies. In addition, we have locally available country boats and coracle boats, ready for rescue operations,” Collector Nooh said.

Rescue and relief camps have been started in all taluks of the district. By Saturday evening, there were 51 camps with 1,250 people already staying there. “People may find it difficult to move to camps initially. But we request everyone to please cooperate with the officials and work as a team. People living in colonies downhill, closer to Pampa, will need to move out. Please be ready with your certificates and other essential belongings packed in plastic covers.”

COVID-19 protocol in camps

There would be four types of camps as instructed by the state government – one for people above 60 years of age, another for people who have been living in home quarantine, a third for people symptomatic for COVID-19 and a fourth for others.

Reiterating that it is not a scary situation, Collector Nooh said that there was still the need for caution. The district had 38 fresh cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, and some of these could not be traced to the source. In the camps, people are advised to follow all COVID-19 protocol, including the wearing of masks and maintaining physical distancing. 

 

 

 

Posted by District Collector Pathanamthitta on Sunday, August 9, 2020

 

Also read: Idukki mudslide: How a family of 3 broke the tiled roof of their house to escape

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