10/08/2020 10:06 AM IST | Updated 10/08/2020 10:35 AM IST

Kerala Rains: Mullaperiyar Dam Level At 136 Feet, Pamba, Kayakkam Shutters Closed

The Kerala government had asked the Tamil Nadu government to release water from Mullaperiyar in a phased manner when the water level reaches 136 feet.

A boat is seen anchored to a pole after the Periyar river overflowed following heavy monsoon rains in Kochi, Aug. 8, 2020. 

The water level at Mullaperiyar reservoir in Idukki district of Kerala reached 136 feet late Sunday night, district collector H Dineshan told the Press Trust of India.

The Idukki district collector held discussions with the collector of Theni in neighbouring Tamil Nadu, with regard to the release of water through the tunnel to Vaigai dam. “No decision has been made as of now with regard to opening of the shutters. They have assured us that we will be informed prior to opening,” Dineshan told PTI. 

About 1,700 people belonging to 500 families living in the low-lying areas like Vandiperiyar and Vallakkadavu will be shifted to safe locations, Mathrubhumi said.

Meanwhile, Manorama reported that the six shutters of Pamba dam in Pathanamthitta district, which were lifted by 2 feet each on Sunday, were closed early Monday morning. The release of water from the dam would lead to a 40 cm rise in water level in river Pamba, district officials said on Sunday.

Shutters of the Kayakkam dam in Kozhikode, which had also been lifted, were also closed on Monday.

Negotiating Mullaperiyar water release with Tamil Nadu

According to information provided by the Idukki district administration, the water level at Mullaperiyar at 10 pm on August 9 was 136 feet.

Dineshan said the district administration has made all arrangements to shift the people in case of any emergency.

The Kerala government had on Saturday asked the Tamil Nadu government to release water from Mullaperiyar through the tunnel to Vaigai Dam in a phased manner when the water level reaches 136 feet in view of heavy rains in Idukki.

Considering Kerala’s request, the Central Water Commission had also directed to release water from Mullaperiyar dam to be released into Periyar river when it reaches 138 feet. The Kerala Water Resources Department has also asked  demanded Tamil Nadu government to take action as soon as the water reaches a dangerous level, Mathrubhumi reported.

In Saturday’s letter, Kerala Chief Secretary Vishwas Mehta had asked his Tamil Nadu counterpart to inform the state government, 24 hours prior to opening of the shutters.

“The state is receiving heavy rains especially in the Idukki district. The water level in the catchment area of Mullaperiyar has been steadily rising. The water level, which was at 116.20 feet on August 3, reached 131.25 feet by 2 pm on August 7,” Mehta said in his letter.

He also pointed out that the MeT office has issued a red alert for Saturday and Sunday in the district, indicating extreme heavy rainfall. He said currently the inflow to the dam is 13,257 cusecs of water and the outflow through the tunnel is 1,650 cusecs.

In the letter sent to Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary K Shanmugam, Mehta had said that as per information provided by the Executive Engineer of MI Division at Kattappana, the surplus shutters of Tamil Nadu-controlled Periyar dam were capable of releasing 1,22,000 cusecs of water.

“We know the extent of damage when 23,000 cusecs of water were released in 2018. Hence, necessary steps should be taken to release water in a phased manner,” he had added.

Four districts on orange alert 

Rains lashed many parts of Kerala on Sunday as the IMD issued a red alert of extremely heavy rainfall for Kasaragod, Kannur, Wayanad, Kozhikode, Malappuram and Alappuzha districts.

The Kerala State Disaster Management Authority said Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Malappuram and Kannur would be on orange alert for Monday.

Rainfall is likely to reduce from Tuesday, it said.

In Idukki’s Pettimudi near Rajamala, where settlements of estate workers were swept away by devastating landslides on Friday, 17 more bodies were recovered, taking the death toll to 43.

Pathanamthitta district officials said have sought the assistance of fishermen to carry out rescue operations anticipating a breach of the river in areas downstream of Pathanamthitta after Pamba dam shutters were lifted.

Last month, 30 fishermen arrived from Kollam with 10 boats deployed at Kozhencherry and Ranni, officials said. Fishermen from Neendakara and Alappad in neighbouring Kollam district will reach vulnerable areas of Pathanamthitta, including Thiruvalla and Adoor with 15 boats.

Nearly 100 families living in the vulnerable areas in Ranni have been shifted to safety, they said.

Normal life of people in low lying areas of Kottayam and Alappuzha has been affected with flood waters entering their homes, PTI reported.

Hundreds of families have been shifted to relief camps from-low lying areas, including Kumarakom and Kuttanad regions of Kottayam and Alappuzha districts, officials said.

An airport taxi driver was washed away in floodwaters at Manarcad area in Kottayam district in the early hours of Sunday. His body was recovered later.

Officials said four cases of drowning have been reported from Kasargod, Kannur, Kozhikode and Alappuzha districts since Saturday.

In Ernakulam district, 1,203 flood affected people have been shifted to relief camps. While 1,118 people have been lodged in general relief camps, 67 senior citizens are in camps for those above 60 years of age. Eighteen people are staying in the camps set for quarantined people, district administration officials said.

Considering the spread of COVID-19, authorities have opened separate camps for different categories of the flood affected people.