KOCHI:The Kerala Government continues to stick to its guns about heavy rain being the sole cause of the recent flood. But the High Court decision to turn a letter sent to one of the judges into a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) will definitely pose some uncomfortable questions when the case comes up for hearing on September 12.
Express accessed the report and documents submitted by Joseph N Rappai of Chalakkudy along with his letter to the High Court.It says the Indian Meteorological Department had forecast widespread rain from June 1 to August 17 in the state. The cumulative rainfall chart prepared by Meteorological Centre in Thiruvananthapuram shows the state recorded excessive rainfall, a 41 per cent rise over normal during this period. But high excess rainfall was recorded only in Idukki (89 per cent rise at 1749.1 mm) and Palakkad (75 per cent rise at 1254.2 mm).
It further points out that the dams were filled up to 70-80 per cent as on July 18 but the government did not do what was essential to prepare for the rain predicted for the last week of July and first three weeks of August. This, despite the authorities being aware that the rivers and canals downstream were full from the July rain.Therefore, it was no secret these water bodies would not be in a position to absorb more water from dams.
‘Floods would not have occurred if government had opened dam shutters on July 25’
“The government knew dam water must be released to accommodate rain water as the monsoon period was only half over. Yet they did not release water in mid-July, end of July or even early August. It is clear that the floods would not have occurred anywhere if the government had opened the shutters on July 25, the dams could have had the capacity to hold the rain water from mid August,” says the report.
Meanwhile, a retired KSEB officer who had served for many years in Idukki, Idamalayar and Poringalkuthu dams, said, “Kerala has been fighting with Tamil Nadu to fix the water level of Mullaperiyar dam at 136 ft, as holding water above this level is not deemed safe for the dam. Therefore, where was our preparedness when the level crossed 136 ft and it became evident the water released would flow down to Idukki dam?”
“It is one thing Tamil Nadu did not release the water initially. At the same time, there was no preparedness at the Idukki dam to receive the water from Mullaperiyar,” he said.“The story is even more damning in the Pampa region, as the entire focus was on Idukki. And we know what happened in Idukki,” he added.
When Express spoke to a serving KSEB engineer, this is what he had to say: “There was absolutely no need to hold water in Idamalayar dam till August 9 as the KSEB knew this is known to be one dam in Kerala that gets filled fast.”
“Similarly, more water should have been released from Poringalkuthu dam from August 1 onwards to get it ready for water from Sholayar dam in Tamil Nadu as there is an agreement that Tamil Nadu would release water every March 1 and October 1 from Sholayar to Kerala.”
“Poringalkuthu is another dam which gets filled fast as its catchment area is vast. It was the decision to keep the shutters of Idukki and Idamalayar dams open at the same time that aggravated the flooding to a great extent as the entire volume of water flowed into Periyar,” the KSEB engineer added.
Key points in the report
Districts flooded after Aug 14 and 15 not flooded before dams were opened
The districts had 41 pc excess rainfall, leading only to swelling of rivers
Floods receded after dams stopped release of water
Flooding only along rivers into which water was released from dams
Areas away from rivers, despite receiving excess rain, not flooded