More gates of the Idukki reservoir in Kerala were opened today because of incessant rain, which has taken 26 lives. The shutters of the Cheruthoni dam - which is one of the dams in the reservoir - were opened for the first time in 26 years yesterday, with the water levels in the reservoir dangerously close to full capacity.
The state government said three times the current flow needed to be released from the Idukki reservoir, because of the state's worst rain in decades. According to Union Minister Alphons Kannanthanam, the state has experienced the heaviest rainfall in 50 years.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said people along the Periyar river would be warned with loudspeakers, and evacuated if needed.
Idukki is one of Asia's largest arch dams. It is one of the three dams that are part of the Idukki reservoir. The others are Cheruthoni and Kulamavu.
The system supplies a major part of electricity in the state.
Commissioned in 1976 by then prime minister Indira Gandhi, Idukki was built with Canadian help.
The shutters of the reservoir have been opened only for the third time in its history.
The first time was in 1981. The shutters were repeatedly opened and shut between October 29 and November 13.
The second time that the dam's shutters were opened was in October 1992, for 12 days.
On Thursday, after a gap of 26 years, a shutter was opened at the reservoir as a trial run. The Idukki dam doesn't have shutters, so the adjoining Cheruthoni dam's gates were opened. Across Kerala, floodgates of 24 dams were opened.
The government said water would be released in small amounts for safety and people within 100 metres of the river had been warned.
The Idukki reservoir has a capacity of 2,403 feet. The administration was alarmed when the water levels touched 2,399 feet on Thursday.
Four more shutters were opened today as the water level crossed 2,400 feet even after the first shutter was kept open for 17 hours.
When the water is released, it takes about four or five hours for it to reach the Periyar river.
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