Faced with a heavily overcast northeast monsoon, Kerala is leaving no stone unturned to avoid a replay of the August deluge. As a part of this, the Kerala State Electricity Board and the Idukki district administration have decided to raise a sluice gate of the Cheruthoni dam, a part of the Idukki reservoir on Saturday. Alerts have also been issued for multiple districts from Saturday to Monday.
Raising a single shutter of the Idukki dam at 11am on Saturday will release a whopping 50cusecs of water from the gigantic reservoir.
On Friday, the water level in the Idukki reservoir was 15ft below its full reservoir level of 2,395ft. A meeting will be conducted by the Idukki district collector at 10.30am on Saturday in order to review the situation. Heavy downpour has forced the state authorities to open several dams in the state including the Malampuzha dam.
Adding to worries, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) had warned that a low-pressure area, similar to the one that caused the mighty August floods, has formed over the southeast Arabian Sea and could transform into a cyclone and move in the northwest direction by Saturday afternoon.
On Friday, the hilly district of Idukki continued to be on red alert. The districts of Palakkad and Thrissur, which received heavy rainfall on Thursday, have been taken off the alert radar. Instead, Malappuram has been warned about intense rains that could pour down as much as 12-20cm in 24 hours.
Several dams have been opened in recent days: Neyyar, Aruvikkara and Peppara in Thiruvananthapuram; Mattupetti, Malankara and Ponmudi dams in Idukki; Banasura in Wayanad; Peringalkuthu, Chimmini, Peechi and Sholayar dams in Thrissur and the Mangalam and Pothundi dams, apart from the Malampuzha dam in Palakkad.
On Friday, the Thenmala Parappar dam at Kollam was opened, raising its shutters by 5cm each. By 2pm, Kakkayam dam in Kozhikode was also opened.
The 32 shutters of the Thottappally spillway were opened on Friday night. It has been decided to open all the 40 shutters by Saturday afternoon.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has asked district collectors to set up the relief camps and has said their concurrence was mandatory for the release of water from dams.
The depression and cyclonic storm could also trigger heavy to extremely heavy rain in various parts of the state. Orange alert has been issued to Palakkad for October 8 and to Idukki for October 6 and 8. On October 7, Idukki and Malappuram has been placed on a red alert, indicating possibility of extremely heavy rainfall.
Palakkad has been issued a yellow alert for October 6 and 7. Till October 8, Thiruvananthapuram, Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam, Thrissur and Wayanad have been issued yellow alert, warning of inclement weather conditions.
On October 7-8, Kottayam and the northern districts of Kozhikode, Kasaragod and Kannur have been placed on a yellow alert. Kollam, lying along the coast, has been issued a yellow alert for October 6 in view of the depression. On October 6, Alappuzha, where some places continue to remain water-logged post the August floods, and Malappuram in north Kerala, will experience rough weather and have been placed on a yellow alert.
As a precautionary measure, the authorities have imposed restrictions on tourist activity at popular centres like Athirappilly and Munnar. Restrictions have been placed on tourist arrival at the Athirappilly waterfall from Friday. Tourist travel to Idukki, including those wanting a glimpse of the famed 'Neelakurinji' flower, has been curbed, mostly shutting out the spot to outsiders.