Kerala's lessons from the 2018 flood tragedy rang out loud today as shutters of Idukki reservoir's Cheruthoni dam -- one of the largest in Asia -- were opened. Sirens warned people downstream, even though the amount of water released -- 100 cumecs (cubic meters per second) -- was limited to just 5 per cent compared to then. Around 60 families evacuated from low lying areas.
The dam was last opened during the massive floods of 2018 -- the spill then was even upto 2000 cumecs, according to Kerala State Electricity Board chairman B Asok.
Shutters to several dams across the state -- Idamalayar, Kakki and Sholayar -- were opened since yesterday as Kerala struggled with excessive rainfall.
Since Monday, many reservoirs reached the red alert mark after the unusual, intense rainfall -- a departure of 135 per cent from normal rainfall from 1st October till now. The expected rainfall for October till now was around 192.7 mm, but Kerala received 453.5 mm instead.
More intense rains -- unusual in October -- have been predicted for the next two days. Twelve districts -- all except Kannur and Kasaragod -- are on orange alert on Thursday also. Orange alerts, the second highest level, indicate very heavy rainfall.
Still, with the rains so far, the reservoirs are now receiving 80 to 100 mcm per day, which is very unusual. Normally it stands below 50 mcm.
"We have let out water very marginally, in comparison to 2018, so that we can absorb more if it rains intensely in catchment areas. Post 2018, a lot has changed in KSEB dam management, emergency action plans," said B Asok, Chairman, KSEB.
There are around 150 relief camps operating across Kerala where 4,000 families have been lodged. The figure is likely to increase.
"My house became slanted after the 2018 floods. That's our situation. It is very difficult for us as the water enters home, can't sleep peacefully," said Allee, one of the evacuees.
The rains and the resultant floods and landslides in the state have claimed 27 lives. Fourteen deaths were reported in Kottayam district, 10 from Idukki district, and one each in Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur and Kozhikode districts.