The Kerala administration was in disaster preparedness mode on Friday as a low pressure over the southeast Arabian Sea seemed likely to intensify into a cyclonic storm, resulting in heavy rain. Anticipating very heavy to extremely heavy rain in the next 48 hours, the department sounded red alert in districts of Idukki and Malappuram and orange alert for 5 of 14 districts on Saturday.
After heavy rain accompanied by overflowing dams inundated central Kerala in August, the government has taken pre-emptive steps this time. Shutters of 14 dams have been opened to avoid floods downstream. Water at 100 cubic per second will be discharged from Idamalayar dam from Saturday. The water level in Idukki — the largest reservoir in Kerala — was 2387.68 ft as on Friday evening against the full reservoir level of 2403 ft. The district administration has decided to release water from Cheruthoni dam from Saturday morning at 50 cubic metre per second.
In Pathanamthitta, restoration work at Sabarimala’s base station was suspended after water levels in Pamba went up. Pamba was one of the worst affected zones in August. In Wayanad, shutters of Banasurasagar dam, which had overflowed and inundated five panchayats overnight in August, were lifted.
Ernakulam District Collector Mohammed Safirulla said there was no reason for panic. “All steps have been taken to open relief camps if necessary. Control rooms have been opened in taluks. Fishermen have been asked to return, venturing into sea has been stopped. Beaches in the district are closed. Tourist movement to hill stations has been banned,” he said.
A defence spokesperson said the Coast Guard and Navy have been engaged in surveillance up to 200 nautical miles from the Kerala coast. “Three ships and two Dornier aircrafts have been deployed. We are prepared to deploy required number of assets. But there is no panic situation now,” the spokesperson said. Fishermen association representative T Peter said the cyclone communication has gone to most fishing boats.
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition in Assembly Ramesh Chennithala said the government took the right decision in opening shutters of some dams in view of the low pressure hovering over the southeast Arabian sea.