The death toll in Kerala due to heavy rains and landslides rose to 26 forcing authorities to open two more of the five sluice gates of the Idukki reservoir Friday morning to release excess water. Gushing water from the dam inundated many areas downstream although human casualty was restricted to an extent due to good planning, a senior revenue official said. Shutters of 22 dams in the state have now been opened.
Kerala chief minister Pinyari Vijayan will hold an emergency meeting Friday morning – the second in as many days – to take stock of the devastation caused by rain and floods. Rescue operations continued on Friday morning, with the army helping 30 stranded tourists in Munnar. State revenue minister E Chandrasekharan said the dam water was expected to reach downstream by late Friday morning.
The maximum water level in the Idukki reservoir is 2,403 feet and the currently level has crossed 2401 feet. More worryingly, there has been no let up in rain in catchment areas and water is flowing to the reservoir with more speed than the quantity of water being released, said an official said.
On Thursday, authorities had opened one sluice gate for the first time in 26 years. Now, three of the five sluice gates have been opened which are releasing 1.5 lakh litre per second. “We are monitoring the situation closely,” said state power minister MM Mani, hailing from Idukki.
The 45-year-old Idukki dam has not filled to such levels in the past 26 years. Idukki reservoir has three dams – the main dam on Periyar that holds maximum water has no shutters as it is situated between two imposing granite hills locally known as Kuravan and Kurathi mala.
The army, navy, air force and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are already engaged in rescue and relief operations in the worst affected districts. North Kerala’s Wayanad district was completely cut off by landslides and the army personnel were pressed into service to restore road network in the hill district.
On Thursday evening, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami announced a contribution of Rs 5 crore to Kerala to help in relief operations.
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