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Red alert sounded at Idamalayar dam

A week after issuing orange alert, the second of the three-levels of alerts, at Idamalayar dam, the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) issued red alert on Wednesday as a prelude to the opening of shutters on Thursday morning.

The dam safety wing Chief Engineer of KSEB issued the third and final alert after the water level exceeded 168.20 metres on Wednesday. The decision was promptly conveyed to Ernakulam and Thrissur district collectors, district disaster management authorities and various other departments concerned.

The dam has a full reservoir limit of 169 metres. Orange alert was issued on August 1 when the water level in the reservoir touched 167 metres following the first alert when the water level crossed 165 metres.

A meeting of the State executive committee of the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) on Wednesday evening said that there was no need for the public to panic as all precautions were in place.

The meeting said that the Idamalayar shutter operations have been advanced to 6 a.m. on Thursday on account of the rising water level. “If the water level rises up to 17 m before 6 a.m. tomorrow (9-8-2018), only one shutter will be operated and 82 cumecs water will be released. Water level increase due to this limited release is estimated to be contained within the river banks.

KSDMA further decided that in view of the red alert at Idamalayar dam and rising water level on account of heavy rainfall upstream, “the trial run decided earlier for Idukki reservoir at 2,398 ft will be decided after assessing the situation on a concurrent basis and will be announced subsequently, if deemed necessary.”

In view of the situation, District Collector K. Mohammed Y. Safirulla has banned venturing into the Periyar and its branches from 5 a.m. on Thursday till further notice.

Earlier in the day, it was decided that the shutters will be opened at 8 a.m. before advancing it by two hours later. The Collector said that there was nothing to be apprehensive over the release of water on account of the relatively low water level in the Periyar and the smooth flow. He put the potential rise in water level between 1 and 1.50 centimetres owing to the release of water from the dam.

The release issued earlier in the day said that 164 cumecs of water will be released to the Periyar, which was considerably lower than 900 cumecs when the dam shutters were last opened in 2013.

The water to be released was further lowered to 82 cumecs through one shutter later by KSDMA.

Water flow

It is expected that water released will reach Kuttampuzha in an hour, Bhoothathankettu dam within one-and-a-half hours, Perumbavoor and Kalady areas within four hours and finally at Aluva in six hours.

The district administration has asked people on both sides of the Periyar to remain alert. The Collector said that all precautions were in place, including potential camps for relocation of people, if necessary. He also warned action under the IT Act against those spreading misinformation about the dam opening through social media.

People can have updates from the official Facebook page of the Collector (www.facebook.com/dcekm), the toll free number of the district emergency operation centre (1077) and the numbers 7902200300, 7902200400, 04842423513.

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