Two-three days of relative respite which Idukki has received since the deluging cloudburst of August 3 to 6 can just about help avert the need for opening the big reservoirs of the district.
The numerical weather prediction models of the India Meteorological Department (IMD), based on Thursday’s conditions, indicate less rain for the State for the next one week.
Such a turn in the weather could help the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) to bring the water level in Idukki district down to a safe position by using up as much water as possible by working all the power generators. The Idukki reservoir on Thursday was just a few feet away from touching the maximum permissible level.
Chief Secretary Bharath Bhooshan called top KSEB people and weather experts for a meeting on Thursday to take stock the situation. He later said there was no need for panic because the rain had abated and the inflow into the reservoirs of the district was dwindling. The meeting worked out strategies to use up, for power generation, as much water as possible from the Idukki reservoir to keep the water level safe.
The Mullaperiyar reservoir, lying upstream of the Idukki reservoir, was but inches away from touching the level of 136 feet (which Kerala considers as the permissible level) on Thursday. Tamil Nadu had been drawing as much water as possible from this reservoir, but the inflow since August 3 had been much more than the quantity of water Tamil Nadu could draw to its side. So the level had been inching up, but on Thursday the inflow-outflow position was beginning to strike a balance. There is, however, need for further caution.
At least one international weather watching centre, the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting, has come out with a forecast that needs to be taken seriously. Contrary to the IMD forecast, the European centre forecasts the possibility of a low pressure system forming over the Bay of Bengal close to the Chennai coast by August 10. The position of this possible system is such as to cause another bout of very intense rainfall in Kerala, too soon after the vigorous spell from August 3 to 6.
All rivers in the State are in spate. In low-lying Kuttanad, which receives the inflow from the Pampa, Achencoil, Manimala, and Meenachil rivers, the flood situation is grim and may continue to worsen further, in spite of relatively sunny days since August 6. It usually takes three-four days for a deluge in the high ranges districts to empty its flood flow into Kuttanad. And, the tide too is high along the coast, preventing the flood waters from draining smoothly from Kuttanad into the sea, through the Kochi sea-mouth and Thottappally spillway.