With the water level in the Idukki dam nearing its maximum, the Kerala government has put the army, navy, airforce and coast guard on alert to meet any eventuality in case water is released. The water-level touched 2,394.72 feet at one pm today against the full level of 2,403 feet, according to Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA). The authorities said an alert would be issued when the water level in the dam reaches 2395 feet. When the level reaches 2397 ft, there is a possibility of water being released on a trial basis for one or two hours, Kerala State Electricity Board sources said. This was to find out if there were any obstruction and diversion on the route the water flows, they said.
A team of National Disaster Response Force has already been deployed in Ernakulam and Thrissur and another team would reach Idukki, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in a Facebook post. The reservoir comprises three dams -Idukki, Cheruthoni and Kulamavu, built for the the Idukki Hydroelectric Project.
“Army, navy, airforce and coast guard have been asked to be on vigil. Two helicopters have been kept ready. There is no need to panic as of now. The State Disaster Management Authority will give timely directive in this regard,” he said. “Coast Guard is also ready with small boats to evacuate people if water enters low-lying areas of Ernakulam,” he said.
People living downstream of the reservoir upto the Lower Periyar area in Ernakulam district have been asked to be vigilant, he said. In the event of opening the sluice gates of Cheruthoni dam, the water would flow through Ernakulam from Idukki, before reaching the Arabian sea, Vijayan said. According to KSDMA, restrictions have been imposed on tourists visiting some areas near the dam.
The Idukki reservoir’s shutters were last opened in 1992. This is the first time it would attain full-level during the South West Monsoon period. While Idukki dam is used to store water, the two other dams were meant to route water to the powerhouse.