Poor dam management led to Kerala’s catastrophic floods, Amicus curie tells HC
In major jolt to the state government ahead of the of the general elections the Kerala High Court-appointed amicus curie submitted a report on Wednesday saying poor dam management led to last year’s devastating flood and recommended a judicial probe.
The opposition Congress has sought the removal of state power minister M M Mani and wanted the police to book him under murder charges. In the flood which ravaged the state last August, killing more than 400 people and displacing at least 15 lakh people.
“Minister Mani should be booked on murder charges,” said state opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala.
Mani refused to comment and vented his anger on reporters.
More than two-dozen petitions, including the one filed by Metro Man E Sreedharan, came up before the court last year and it appointed amicus curie Jacob P Alex to examine reasons that led to the worst flood in a century. The 49-page report also recommended formation of an expert committee comprising hydrologists, dam-management experts and engineers to come up with a blueprint to contain such tragedies in future.
The report is damning. It said no proper follow-up action and effective precautionary steps, especially for evacuating the affected and accommodating them in safe locations, were taken despite the red alert sounded by the disaster management authority and the Met office.
More shockingly, it said none of the 79 dams in the state were operated in accordance with flood control mechanisms. High reservoir storage and sudden release of water resulted in the tragedy. It said an inquiry by a former judge or expert is required to get into minute details.
Soon after the flood E Sreedharan had written to the state government to constitute an experts’ team for a technical study to find out reasons for the tragedy. He later approached the court when he failed to get any response. Many other petitions also said the government chose to sit quietly fearing the exposure of commissions and omissions of the higher-ups if a probe was ordered.
The flood devastated the road and rail networks in the state and even submerged the Kochi airport for a few days.
At the height of the floods when experts and scribes requested power minister Mani to open sluice gates of the Idukki dam he chided them saying “shutters can’t be simply opened for TV visuals.”
Kerala’s finance minister Thomas Issac said the government will react after going through the report.