Kerala Flood 2021: Idukki dam shutters opened for first time after 2018, Orange alert issued in many districts

Idukki dam opening: The Idukki dam shutters have been opened for the first time since the devastating 2018 Kerala floods and for the fifth time in the dam's history.

Created On: Oct 19, 2021 15:30 IST
Idukki dam shutters opened for first time after 2018
Idukki dam shutters opened for first time after 2018

Idukki dam opening: The shutters of the Idukki dam over the Periyar river in Kerala were opened on October 19, 2021 amid efforts to ease the pressure on the structure caused due to heavy rainfall in the state.  Three warning sirens were sounded early in the morning from 10.50 am before the local dam authorities opened the first of the three shutters of the Cheruthoni dam flanking the main Idukki arch dam and its massive reservoir.

Two more of the five shutters of Cheruthoni dam were opened by 35 cm in due course to release water that had reached the height of 2398.08 ft. The maximum permissible water level in the dam is 2403 ft. The shutters of the dam were opened as per the Kerala state government's plan to release the water in small amounts after its levels crossed the danger mark. 

The state Electricity Minister K Krishnankutty and Water Resources Minister Roshy Augustine had held a top-level meeting to review the situation before the dam opening.

Why is this important?

This is the fifth time in the dam's history that its shutters had to be opened. The shutters of the Cheruthoni dam were last opened in 2018 when the southern state had witnessed extremely heavy rainfall, which led to devastating floods.

After the devastating floods, the Central Water Commission (CWC) issued new rule curve levels to the dams in Kerala to avoid a situation of a sudden release of large volumes of water.

Orange alert issued in 11 districts

According to the State Disaster Management Authority figures, over 38 people have lost their lives due to rain-related incidents in the state between October 12 and October 18. The IMD has predicted more heavy rains in Kerala in the coming days. 

Orange alert has been issued in Idukki, Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Malappuram, Palakkad, Pathanamthitta, Wayanad, Kottayam, Kozhikode, and Kannur districts for October 20th. A yellow alert has been issued in Alapuzha, Kasargod and Kollam districts.

Pampa dam, Idamalayar dam shutters also opened

The shutters of Idamalayar and Pampa dam, two other large water reservoirs in the state, were also opened earlier today in the wake of an increase in water levels and prediction of more rains in coming days.

As per Ernakulam district administration, shutters 2 and 3 of Idamalayar dam were opened by 50 centimetres each.The Pathanamthitta district administration also confirmed opening of shutters 3 and 4 of the Pampa dam by 45 centimetres each.

This came a day after the state government opened the shutters of Kakki and Sholayar dams to release surplus water. The shutters of the Kaki Ananthodu Dam in Pathanamthitta district were also opened on October 18 along with the Moozhiyar and Maniyar dams. 

Idukki Dam Opening: Important Details

The third shutter of the Cheruthoni Dam was first opened by 35 centimetres to release one lakh litres of water per second. The dam is a part of the Idukki hydropower project.

The district authorities had alerted the people living near the Periyar river before opening the dam's shutter. Three sirens were sounded as well, first around 10.50 AM, then again at 10.51 AM and the third siren 11 AM before the shutters opened. 

The released surplus water is expected to reach the main towns of Kalady (85 km away) and Aluva (92 km) by 4 pm, as per sources.

The Idukki dam water level was recorded to be 2,398.04 ft in the morning on October 19th. The district administration has decided to control the water level at 2,395-2,396 ft in the wake of warnings of further heavy rainfall.

Evacuation of people 

The local authorities evacuated around 200 members from 64 families residing in downstream areas of the Idukki dam in preparation ahead of the dam opening. 

2018 Kerala Floods

All five shutters of the Idukki dam were opened in phases during the 2018 Kerala floods and were kept in that position for 30 days. The water released then was equivalent to almost half of the reservoir content totaling an estimated 1063.25 million cu ft.

The sudden release of such a high volume of water from the dam in a short time had resulted in large-scale flooding in Idukki and Ernakulam districts. The authorities had been forced to open the shutters then after the water levels crossed the danger mark.


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