Baby Srampical, who runs a teashop here, has vivid memories of the flood in 1992 when the Cheruthoni dam was opened following heavy rains. Waters suddenly entered his shop and it was flooded for quite a week till it subsided.

If the dam is opened now, the flood will be severe as there is more flow in the Periyar on the downstream area here, in Mariyapuram grama panchayat, he fears.

He says he has not officially received any information regarding the opening of the dam but he knew about it from the TV news.

Azees Mammottil, who has 75 acres of land with cocoa, paddy and tapioca cultivation, says his crops will be damaged if the dam is opened now.

There is fear and anxiety among the people gathered here enquiring about when the dam is to be opened.

As per the official data, only 93 families are to be given temporary shelters, in case the dam is opened. It is a figure much below the actual number of families to be affected.

The Kerala State Electricity Board has marked vast areas in seven villages as likely-to-be-affected places in the district downstream of the dam. Thazhathedathu Joseph Thomas, whose house was flooded in 1992, says that he made the new house above the place where his old house was situated. However, he fears his crops in nearly one acre will be damaged if the dam is opened

He says that it is all sleepless night for those living on the banks of the Periyar, which is reduced to a small stream after the dam was constructed. He is one among the many people who will be affected first by the gushing dam waters. Officials of the Vazhathoppe grama panchayat told him that there is the possibility of opening the dam, he adds.

According to District collector Ajit Patil, the level of water to be released depends on the inflow to the dam and the power generation-level at the Moolamattom Power House. Following heavy rains, there is good inflow through the river downstream of the dam even as the authorities are preparing for opening the shutters of the dam which is close to the Cheruthoni town, the first town to be affected.

The arch dam was constructed preventing the natural flow of the Periyar and near to it is the Cheruthoni dam through which the water is to be discharged.