There has been no respite for residents in Idukki – one of the worst-hit districts in Kerala, with continuous rains overnight. The water levels at Cheruthoni dam have touched 2401 feet, just 2 feet short of its full reservoir level. As of Friday morning, three shutters of the dam have been raised, with the CMO Kerala Twitter handle stating that 125 cusecs of water being discharged. This after a meeting of dam officials was convened on Friday morning.
Updates on Idukki Cheruthoni dam: 3 shutters of the dam have been raised. 125 cusecs of water are being discharged in the spill.— CMO Kerala (@CMOKerala) August 10, 2018
A third red alert has been issued to people living downstream of the Cheruthoni and Periyar rivers and as per estimates more than 200 families will have to be immediately evacuated from five villages, say officials. Announcements are being made every five minutes to these villages to relocate to safer ground. The army, navy, air force and the NDRF are involved in rescue and relief operations.
However, given that the rains show no signs of letting up, and water levels in the dam continue to rise, more shutters may be opened. While more shutters of the dam may be opened, there is fear that Cheruthoni town may be flooded.
Authorities have also imposed a ban on the movement of heavy goods vehicles and tourist vehicles in the high ranges of Idukki.
For the first time in 26 years, one shutter of the dam was opened on Thursday as water levels rose to nearly 2,399 feet in the reservoir, just 4 feet below its full capacity. At 12:30pm on Thursday, one shutter of the Cheruthoni dam was opened 50 centimetres to let the water out.
The shutter was opened at 12:30 pm for a trial run. It was initially decided to keep it open for four hours but since the reservoir levels kept rising, it stayed opened throughout the night.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday night put out a statement saying that he had spoken to Prime Minister Narendra Modi regarding the situation in the state.
“I had informed the PM about the condition in Kerala and also thanked him for sending the armed forces for help, immediately,” the CM said in his statement.
Pinarayi VIjayan also said that he had called up his counterpart in Karnataka, HD Kumaraswamy, to enquire about the situation in Karnataka, as parts of the state were also hit by rains.
“Kumaraswamy has said that the Karnataka government had opened the shutters in the Kabini river to allow the water from Banasura dam in Wayanad to be released,” said Vijayan.
According to officials from the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), the rains which lashed the state on Wednesday are expected to continue on Friday as well.
Heavy rains triggered flash floods and landslides in several parts of the state. Since Wednesday, 26 people have been killed in rain-related incidents across the state.