War of words over Kerala floods

Opposition terms it man-made calamity; followed protocol, says CM Pinarayi

Updated - August 23, 2018 12:22 pm IST

Published - August 22, 2018 09:42 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram

People from nearby villages take shelter at a relief camp in a college in Chengannur.

People from nearby villages take shelter at a relief camp in a college in Chengannur.

The Opposition United Democratic Front, which extended support to the all-round efforts for rescue operations during the recent floods in  Kerala,  on Wednesday sought to turn up the heat on the State government, blaming it for the floods created by inefficient water management and differences of opinion between the Power and Water Resources Ministers.

“This is a man-made calamity. I hold the State government fully responsible for it,” Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said at a press conference.

He said all the 44 dams in the State were simultaneously opened without any warning to the people and proper scientific preparation. The government did not have any evaluation about the impact it would have on downstream areas when the dams were opened. Early warning was not given at Kalady, Perumbavoor, Paravur and Pandalam, and in many areas people woke up to rising water levels.

CM refutes charges

Reacting to the charges, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the government followed protocols and established procedures in opening the shutters of dams to let out excess water following a rise in inflow caused by abnormally heavy rain. He asserted that the district administrations and disaster management authority had issued alerts in time and prepared downstream communities for evacuation.

“The protocol for regulated discharge was followed in the case of all but the four dams that are opened to let out flood waters every year. Based on the increase in inflow, the alerts were scaled up from blue to orange to red,” he said. Countering Mr. Chennithala’s argument that Kerala had received less rainfall compared to 1924, he said the State had registered a seasonal rainfall of 2,500 mm from June 1 to August 20 this year against an annual rainfall of 3,328 mm in 1924. Mr. Chennithala had compared the seasonal rainfall in 2018 to the annual rainfall in 1924, he said.

“In 1924, we had only one dam while today there are a total of 82 dams, including 42 major ones. The fact that we could avoid any danger despite the heavy rainfall shows that our dam management strategy is sound,” he said. Citing rainfall figures, the Chief Minister said the Idukki and Kakki reservoirs had received double the amount of normal rainfall over four days from August 16, requiring regulated discharge from dams.

“The flooding in Aluva and Kalady areas was caused not only by the discharge from the Idukki and Idamalayar dams but also due to the intense rainfall. The flooding at Pandalam, Thiruvalla and Nilambur was caused by the rising water level in the Achenkovil, Manimala and Chaliyar rivers, which are not dammed,” Mr. Vijayan said.


Speaking to presspersons, Congress leader A.K. Antony said there had been some minor issues in coordinating flood rescue operations, but overall the State government’s handling of the situation was satisfactory.

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