The pilgrimage to Sabarimala Temple has been put on hold for this season in light of the heavy rains and landslides in Kerala. A high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to evaluate the rain situation in the state took a call on several pressing matters such as opening of dams, college reopening and the pilgrimage. The decision on Sabarimala was made after the surrounding areas of Nilakkal and Perunthenaruvi received more than 20 cm of rain till Sunday, October 17.
Water level in rivers has increased in the past few days and the heavy rain in forest areas have raised the risk of landslides. More heavy rain is predicted by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) from Wednesday (October 20). In such a situation, pilgrimage cannot be allowed. District authorities have been instructed to ensure the safe return of pilgrims who had reached earlier.
Red warning in 10 dams
The rain subsided on Monday, October 18, however, with the water level still rising in dams, the IMD has issued a red warning to 10 of them. These include Kakki, Sholayar, Matupatti, Moozhiyar, Kundala and Peechi dams, most of which are located in Pathanamthitta, Idukki and Thrissur districts. Two shutters of the Kakki Dam in Ranni of Pathanamthitta were opened on Monday. State Revenue Minister K Rajan said that there was no need for panic, and only 10% of the water released from Kakki last time (during the 2018-19 floods) has been released this year.
Ministers Rajan and Veena George (Health) held a press conference to explain the situation. They said that preparations have been made to evacuate or shift people living along the banks of the Pampa River to relief camps set up in the district. Presently, there are 83 camps in the district where over 2,000 people are housed.
An orange warning has been issued to eight other dams in the state. One of these is the Idukki dam, the biggest in the state, where the water level rose to 2,396.96 feet on Monday. The full reservoir capacity is 2,403 feet. The call to open or not open the various dams of the state will be taken by an expert committee. Respective district collectors should be alerted hours before a dam in the district is to be opened, so that there is enough time to evacuate the region and shift people to safer ground.
184 camps in the state
There are now 184 relief camps in the state. The Revenue Department and local self governing bodies are to ensure that the camps are equipped with food, clothing and facilities to lie down.
Union government agencies and members of the public are working together in search of missing persons, it was said at the CM's high-level meeting. People living in landslide-prone areas should be strictly moved out, it was decided.
Colleges to open on Oct 25
Colleges which were to reopen on Monday, October 18, after months of being shut down will now open only on October 25, in view of the rain situation. The IMD had warned of isolated heavy rainfall between October 20 and 24. According to the IMD, the northeast monsoon has not yet commenced, and yet the state has received 84% of what it should receive during the NE monsoon. The season which would last from October to December is also the time of cyclones, and more low pressure formations are expected.
(With PTI input)
Read: What caused Kerala‚Äôs extreme rains in October? Experts explain