The hilly district of Idukki has been thrown back by 40 years following Kerala's worst flooding in a century, Power Minister MM Mani said on Sunday.
"What our forefathers built in the past 100 years to take Idukki to where it was has been washed away. Idukki has gone back by 40 years," the Marxist leader told the media.
This is one of the worst disasters Idukki has witnessed, he said.
Long considered home to settlers, the main occupation in Idukki is farming. But with its numerous hills and treacherous terrain, life has never been easy in the district.
Idukki is also home to some of the major dams which, when their sluice gates were opened after their water level came to the choking points, caused unprecedented destruction all over the state this month.
Idukki received one of its highest rainfalls starting from the end of May till the middle of August. This pushed up the water levels in the Idukki, Mulaperiyar and other dams.
For the first time in 26 years, the shutters of the Idukki dam were opened, causing a deluge.
"This is the worst destruction I have seen," said Mani, who is from the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).
So bad is the situation that to reach the state capital Thiruvananthapuram from Idukki, Mani had to take a detour through the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu as the main link road linking Idukki and Thiruvananthapuram has been damaged.
MM Mani came under severe attack from the opposition for faulty dam water management but he insisted that all rules were followed.
"Everything was done according to clear-cut guidelines after discussing with all concerned," he said.
The waters gushing out from the Idukki dam spread out far and wide, damaging everything that came in its way and forcing hundreds of thousands to take shelter in relief camps.
While rains and flooding caused widespread damage to crops and buildings, landslides damaged several key roads connecting the major towns in the district with interior areas.
Roshy Augustine, an Idukki legislator, said on Sunday that massive efforts were needed to get Idukki back on its feet and rehabilitate all those who had lost everything they had.
"Ever since the tragedy struck, politics has taken a back seat. Everyone is working as one single team to restore Idukki to its original self... The need of the hour is a proper dam management policy," said the Congress MLA.
Idukki, especially Munnar, a picturesque hill station, took the worst beating. Even now the main road that connects Munnar with Ernakulam is only partially motorable.
(Kerala has to rebuild itself after the worst floods in over a century. Hundreds have died and lakhs are homeless. Here is how you can help.)