Kerala floods Kerala

With dams brimming, Kerala sets up panel to regulate discharge

Sailing together: A couple returning from their wedding venue in a vessel through a flooded road in Kuttanad, Alappuzha, on Monday.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Amid havoc caused by torrential rains over the past week leading to floods and landslips, the Kerala Government has constituted an expert committee to regulate the release of water from 81 dams across swollen rivers.

The hydroelectric, irrigation and drinking water dams in the State are several decades old and designed in a pre-climate-change era. Climatologists, structural engineers, and hydrologists are on the committee to help the administration manage the water systems during extreme weather. The committee will primarily regulate the opening and closing of spillways.

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Its principal task is to ensure that the heavy inflow from catchment areas does not strain the structural integrity of the levees. Moreover, the committee will also regulate the discharge of dam water to ensure that the outflow does not inundate villages, towns, homes, roads, population centres and farmlands downstream.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the committee will gauge the quantum of water in dams and formulate long-term management plans. It will modulate the discharge of excess inflow to prevent downstream flooding. The committee will warn District Collectors about the opening of spillways well in advance. The district administration will alert people and evacuate them to higher grounds or relief camps as required.

Opening of all the the brimming dams recalls the devastating floods of 2018 when water released from the dams without adequate preparation led to widespread flooding and landslides, loss of life and property across the State.

Authorities on Monday opened the gates of the Kakki-Anathodu twin reservoirs, triggering panic across the region. With the storage in the Kakki-Anathodu reservoir touching 94%, the authorities raised two shutters around 11 a.m. The resultant discharge is expected to push up the water level in the Pampa river by 15 cm.

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While the swollen Manimala river had begun to retreat to its original course, Pathanamthitta district continues to be on the edge.

Two shutters of the Pampa dam will be also opened after 5 a.m on Tuesday. With water to be released at 50 cumecs, this could further raise the water level by another 10 cm. The water released from the dam is expected to reach the Pampa-Triveni, the base camp of Sabarimala temple, about six hours later.

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In view of the forecast of further heavy rain, the existing ban on entry of pilgrims to Sabarimala has been extended to all five days of the ongoing monthly pujas. The decision triggered protests among the pilgrims, who had been camping at Nilackal, owing to the ban, on the first three days of the season.

Above danger level

Officials said water level in the Pampa, Manimala, and Achencoil rivers remained well over the danger level. While floodwaters have begun to slowly recede from Mallappally, the run-off water from the Achencoil river flooded areas like Thumpamon, Kadakkad, and Cherikkal.

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Several parts of Thiruvalla taluk, particularly the Upper Kuttanad villages, continued to remain under water, also causing traffic disruptions along the Main Central Road and the Thiruvalla-Ambalappuzha road.

Idukki reservoir

With the water in the Idukki reservoir approaching the red alert level and the India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicting heavy rainfall from Wednesday, the authorities have decided to open two shutters of the Cheruthoni dam of the reservoir at 11 a.m. on Tuesday.

At a high-level meeting addressed by Water Resources Minister Roshy Augustine at the Collectorate on Monday, it was decided to open the two shutters by 50 cm to release 100 cumecs of water.

The water level at 5 p.m. on Monday stood at 2,397.44 ft whereas the red alert level is 2,397.86 ft. The full reserve level of Idukki dam is 2,403 ft. Though power generation was raised to 13.61 mu, the water level of the reservoir kept rising despite less rainfall on Monday.

Edamalayar at 6 a.m.

Two shutters of the Edamalayar dam will also be raised by 80 cm at 6 a.m. on Tuesday to release 100 cumecs. The present water level at the dam is 165.45 metres. The maximum level is 169 metre and red alert is issued when the level goes above 166.80 metres. It was decided to open the Edamalayar dam shutters, on the downstream of Idukki dam, earlier to avoid a surge in the water level on the Periyar river, according to Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) sources.

Evacuation plans

The district administration has started preparations for evacuating 64 families in five villages living close to the Periyar river. Schools and other buildings scheduled to function as rehabilitation centres have been taken over. The District Collector has issued directives to the police and revenue officials to inform the public and attach notices on houses likely to be affected by floodwaters. People should not bathe in the river or fish there when the dam shutters are opened.

(with inputs from Hiran Unnikrishnan in Pathanamthitta and Giji K. Raman in Idukki)


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Printable version | Dec 5, 2021 9:02:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/with-dams-brimming-kerala-sets-up-panel-to-regulate-discharge/article37059500.ece

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