Disaster management mechanism yet to be activated in the district

The water level of Idukki Dam is rising but the disaster management mechanism of the district is yet to wake up from slumber.

The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) officials have informed the district collectors of Idukki and Ernakulam that the shutters may have to be opened on Saturday or Sunday if the monsoon showers continued.

The water level of the dam reached 2,400.01 ft on Thursday against the full reservoir level of 2,403 ft. The water level touched the 2,399 ft mark on Wednesday. The Dam Safety officials were closely watching the rising water levels to decide on opening of the dam shutters.

It can cause flooding in Periyar banks, affecting hundreds of residents of the district. The administration had received a communication that the dam shutters were likely to be lifted during the weekend, officials said.

The 244-km-long Periyar traverses through Peerumedu, Devikulam and Thodupuzha taluks of Idukki district and Muvattupuzha, Kunnathunadu and Paravur taluks of Ernakulam.

Even as water level is steadily rising, the Ernakulam district administration is yet to activate its plans for meeting the emergency.

It has issued a warning notice following the developments. A meeting of the district disaster management authority will be held on Friday for activating a management plan in the event of opening of the dam shutters. Safety and rescue measures will be decided at the meeting on Friday and representatives of various departments will attend the meeting. Advertisements cautioning people about the situation would be released shortly, said a senior official of the district administration.

K.K. Karuppan Kutty, the Chief Engineer (Dam Safety) of KSEB said it would take at least 36 hours for the water level of the dam to rise one foot. However, it may need heavy showers for the water level to rise further, he said.

Even if the dam shutters are raised, there won’t be much flooding in the Periyar as during the peak monsoon season. The Periyar is already overflowing following heavy showers. The opening of shutters can cause flooding in some areas of the Periyar and the disaster management measures needed to be activated for meeting the situation, he said.

People living on the banks of the river and Aluva area need to take precautionary measures. Mr. Kutty will visit the dam site on Saturday to take stock of the situation.

The Idukki district administration has identified seven villages as vulnerable to flooding and 150 families may have to be rehabilitated in case of extreme weather. There won’t be any immediate evacuation until the district administration received a concrete information from the board, said Ajit B. Patil, Idukki District Collector.

The decision on opening the shutters would be taken at the highest level of the board. The revenue officials have been put on alert. Disaster management and preparedness measures have been fully activated.

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