Officials say a warning will be issued six hours before the shutters are opened to give people enough time to move to higher ground

The district on Saturday was in preparatory mode for the possibility of opening the shutters of the Idukki dam. The water level in the dam by Saturday evening stood at 2,401.5 ft, a foot and half short of the dam limit.

The authorities said they would analyse the situation on Sunday and would have to open the dam if the level rose any more.

Officials of the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) said they would issue a warning six hours before the dam opened. This would give people enough time to move to higher ground.

“It is possible that check dams on the Periyar may get blocked by the dirt and bits of trees flowing down the water. We have alerted all the local bodies at such places so they can warn the people,” said KSEB Dam Safety chief engineer K.K. Karuppan Kutty. Officials said all preparations had been made to evacuate people in case the dam is opened.

A meeting of officials from different departments held on Saturday afternoon also decided to hold meetings at ward level at areas with risk of flooding. “This is to ensure that the people are made aware of the risk and the evacuation measures in place,” Mr. Kutty said.

Office-bearers of the Aluva municipality visited areas on the banks of the Periyar to oversee safety measures and inform people. “The KSEB has informed us that the water level could rise only by three or four feet maximum. It will also be about four hours before the water reaches Aluva. So we have enough time to evacuate people if necessary,” said M.T. Jacob, chairman of Aluva municipality.

Thottakkattukara and Chembakassery are two areas in Aluva that could possibly be flooded in case the shutters of the dam are opened. Mr. Jacob said preparations had been made at schools, flats and a church in the area in case people had to be evacuated. Arrangements to bring food to those evacuated had also been made, he said.

The international airport at Nedumbassery has also set up an emergency management cell to prepare for possible flooding.

“We have checked all canals through which water flows out and have also dug new canals temporarily. Equipment to pump water out is also on standby,” said a spokesperson for the airport.

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