Opposition blames govt for floods

Says there were differences of opinion between Ministers on opening of shutters

Updated - August 23, 2018 08:25 am IST

Published - August 22, 2018 08:47 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram

Ramesh Chennithala. File

Ramesh Chennithala. File

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

“This is a man-made calamity. I hold the State government fully responsible for it,” Mr. Chennithala said at a press conference in which he listed out the shortcomings in water management by the Power Department and the Water Resources Department. He reiterated his demand for a judicial inquiry into the reasons for the floods, even while rejecting an official-level inquiry which, he said, would end up absolving official lapses.

He alleged that the Kerala State Electricity Board ((KSEB) was driven by profit motives in delaying the release of water. Power Minister M.M. Mani had promised to begin a trial run for the release of water from the Idukki dam if the level touched 2,397 ft., but it did not materialise even after the water level crossed the mark and it happened only after it reached 2,400 ft.

He maintained that there were differences between the two Ministers, with Water Resources Minister Mathew T. Thomas opposed to opening the shutters.

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 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.

It is true that the State received 41.44% excess rain, but the inflow could have been regulated by releasing water from the smaller dams since the storage levels in the reservoirs had almost touched maximum capacity. He recalled that in 2013, when heavy rain occurred, shutters of the Idukki dam were not opened and water flow was managed by releasing water from the smaller dam.

Mr. Chennithala cited similar lapses in water management in Malampuzha and Chalakudy, causing unprecedented floods in these areas. In the case of Kuttanad, which has been waterlogged for the last two years, the State government initially was indifferent, but by the time it responded, lakhs of people had to be lodged to relief camps.

All the channels for the outflow of waters from Kuttanad continued to remain blocked. The State government has not been able to resolve the dispute over the removal of the mud embankment on the Thanneermukham bund. The management of the Thottapally spillway also reflected the indifference as could be seen by the fact that the shutters of the spillway was opened only on August 17, he said.

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