Government turns down Idukki administration’s proposal

The Power Ministry has shot down the Idukki district administration’s proposal for controlled release of water from the Idukki dam. Minister for Power Aryadan Mohammed told The Hindu on Wednesday that there is no situation that warrants discharge of water from the dam at this juncture. ‘‘Water needs to be released only when it is at the full reservoir level,’’ he said adding that if the water level is expected to reach that point at night, steps will be taken to release water in advance during daytime.

Power generation is maintained at the maximum level to control the water level in the dam, he added.

A meeting of top officials and people’s representatives held at the collectorate at Painavu on Sunday, with Collector Ajit Patil in the chair, had suggested discharge of water from the Cheruthoni dam in small measure. The suggestion has been made against the backdrop of the Meteorological Department’s forecast that the northeast monsoon would gather momentum by Friday or Saturday. Being one of the highest archdams in Asia, the Idukki dam has a vast reservoir area and any discharge of water from the dam would cause a flood situation downstream, where a large number of people reside. Uncontrolled development activities, including a check-dam, could create hindrance to the natural waterway.

It is feared that Cheruthoni town, close to the dam, may get flooded. When the dam was opened 21 years ago, vast areas of Vazhathoppe and Mariyapuram villages were flooded for over a week.

The number of houses downstream has multiplied over the years.

1992 release

The Central Water Commission had castigated the Kerala State Electricity Board for causing loss to the exchequer when water was released in 1992 before the water level reached the full reservoir level (FRL). Usually, the Dam Safety Authority recommends water release when the level is about to reach the FRL. (The FRL of the dam is 2,403 ft.)

The dam was opened last time when the water level was 2,401.44 ft. The water level on Saturday was 2,401.68 ft. Though the rain has subsided in the catchments, there is good inflow through the Periyar river and other diversion dams.

The rainfall recorded on Wednesday was just 8 mm. Even at the maximum generation at the Moolamattom power house, the water level recorded on Wednesday evening was 2,401.29 ft. It is only a slight fall when compared with the high power generation level and the almost zero rainfall during the past 48 hours, said an official of the control room atop the Cheruthoni dam.

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