Kerala rain: Gates of Idukki, Idamalayar dams to be opened
Rain-battered Kerala will open the gates of two of its prominent dams to allay people's concerns and control the water level. The two structures are the Idukki dam - Asia's biggest arch dam constructed across the Periyar River - and Idamalayar on one of its tributaries in Ernakulam district.
Rain-related incidents have claimed 35 lives across Kerala.
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Water minister Roshy Augustine said on Monday that water level in Idukki dam reached 2,396.86 feet at 7am on Monday and there is a possibility it would breach the upper limit of 2,398.86 feet by Tuesday. "In view of the rising water levels of Idukki dam, it has been decided to open two of its shutters by 50 centimeters to let out 100 cubic metre per second of water flow," said the minister.
"The decision is based on past experience and was meant to allay people's concerns," Augustine added. The Idukki dam is designed to hold 2,403 feet of water.
Ernakulam district collector Jafar Malik said yesterday that two shutters of Idamalayar dam will be opened by 80 centimetres each on Tuesday. "Due to this, no significant change in the water level of the Periyar river is expected," he added.
The official said that this move has been taken as a precautionary measure in anticipation of heavy rains and floods in the coming days.
He further said that the people living near the Periyar river and its tributaries are requested "to be vigilant and follow the instructions of the officials and the people's representatives".
The sluice gates of Kakki and Pamba dams in Pathanamthitta district have already been opened.
As release of water from Idamalayar and Idukki dams would flow through Aluva, the commercial hub of Ernakulam, state industries minister P Rajeev held a meeting to deal with resulting consequences.
After the meeting on Sunday, Rajeev said in a release that steps are being taken to ensure water from these two dams do not flow into the Periyar together.
The announcement regarding opening of the dams comes in the wake of the general directions issued by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan in a review meeting held to assess the situation with regard to the rainfall and water levels of various dams in the state.
Kerala revenue minister K Rajan and state health minister Veena George said at a press conference that red alert has been issued for 10 dams in Kerala. They also said that pilgrimage to Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala has been put on hold, adding that after opening of the sluice gates of Kakki dam, water level in Pamba River will rise by at least 15cm, and it was not an ideal situation for the pilgrimage.
Meanwhile, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted more rain in Kerala from October 20 to 24. It has already issued yellow alert - a warning for possible severe weather - in 11 districts of the state.
Kerala received 412mm rain in the first 17 days of October, a whopping 84% of the usual 492mm of rain between October to December, according to the regional office of the IMD in Thiruvananthapuram.