Torrential downpour in the vulnerable northern and central districts of Kerala has hardly relented, with the catchment areas of the fast-filling Idukki reservoir recording 12.9 cm of rain by this morning.
The water level at Idukki has touched 2,401.22 ft (as of 9 am) against a full reservoir level of 2,403 feet. The level is not showing any sign of receding despite a third shutter at the Cheruthoni spillway having been opened.
Simar is the case with the Idamalayar dam in neighbouring Ernakulam, which has already crossed the maximum level of 554 feet. There are 22 more dams in the State where storage has reached maximum capacity in what has been an unprecedented heavy monsoon phase marked by flooding and landslips in two days of rain-related carnage that has claimed at least 24 lives so far.
Nobody has come out with a proper explanation of what is behind the monsoon fury but some experts are of the view that a friendly positive phase of the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) may be feeding into the monsoon system.
Earlier last night, as water levels continued to rise in rivers and reservoirs, a third red alert was issued at the Idukki reservoir. Four naval teams and a Sea King helicopter were sent to Wayanad to evacuate stranded people. Army has deployed over 200 personnel at Ayannkulu, Idukki and Wayanad and about 150 headed to Kozhikode and Malappuram.
Search and rescue operations are under way in low-lying areas of Ernakulum and Idukki districts following heavy rain and landslips. Heavy rainfall is expected in the next 24 hours in several districts. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has sought help from the Army, Navy, Coast Guard and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), and said “the situation is very serious”.
“Things are pretty bad,” Kerala Power Minister MM Mani, who is from Idukki, said. Three teams of the NDRF have been deployed at Kozhikode, Ernakulam and Alappuzha districts. Army, Navy, Police and Fire Force are active in rescue efforts, the Chief Minister said. Relief camps have been opened in two villages in Ernakulam.