Water level at Idamalayar rises, orange alert sounded

The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) issued an orange alert at Idamalayar dam after water level in the reservoir touched 167 metres on Wednesday at 6 a.m.

This follows the first alert when the water level crossed 165 metres. Red alert before evacuation of people in vulnerable areas and the subsequent release of water will be issued once the water level touches 168.50 metres.

The reservoir recorded an inflow of one centimetre per hour and at that rate it would be another ten days before the water level reached the point, warranting the issue of red alert. However, there is no clarity on the rainfall in the catchment areas of the reservoir.

The dam has four shutters and as of now it is not clear as to how many shutters would have to be opened, if it becomes necessary. The height to which shutters would have to be raised and the duration for which they would have to be kept open would depend on the water level and the rate of inflow. The dam shutters was last opened in 2013 following heavy rainfall.

Revenue officials at Kothamangalam taluk are not anticipating much trouble from any potential release of water from Idamalayar dam under present circumstances with all 13 shutters of Bhoothathankettu reservoir being kept open.

However, Kothamangalam Tahsildar M.D. Lalu said that all necessary preparations were in place to meet the challenge posed by any unpredictable developments.

“We are expecting around 100 families to be affected in such a scenario for which ten potential relief camps have been identified. We expect water to flow smoothly to the Periyar through the open shutters of Bhoothathankettu reservoir. The last time when the Idamalayar dam shutters were opened, no families had to be moved out though there was some flooding,” he said.

Control rooms opened

In the wake of the orange alert, Kothamangalam municipality convened an emergency meeting of taluk, police and fire and rescue department officials, taluk hospital representatives and health and engineering wings of the municipality. Two control rooms have been opened, one each at taluk hospital and taluk headquarters.

“We are maintaining full alert and arrangements have been made for sourcing educational institution buses, and for public announcement, if necessary,” said municipal chairperson Manju Siju.

She was confident that the release of water, if at all it happens, would not create as much difficulties as in 2013 when water level at Bhoothathankettu reservoir was high and its shutters were open, causing considerable flooding.

Ms. Siju’s only worry was the threat of landslides in which case the situation would turn unpredictable. As things stand now, KSEB authorities were in full control of the situation, she said.

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