KOCHI: Will there be a repeat of 2018? People living along the Pampa river are asking themselves the question, their fears sparked by the sudden change in the monsoon situation. After heavy rain forced the authorities to raise the shutters of the Kakki-Anathodu dam in Pathanamthitta on Monday, people in Kozhenchery, Aranmula, Chengannur and Ranni – which were among the worst-hit areas in the 2018 flood – are apprehensive. The news that the Pampa dam shutters will be raised on Tuesday has added to their fears.
With the horror and devastation that the overflowing Pampa wreaked in August 2018 still fresh in their minds, many are vacating the banks. “The nightmare that we went through while spending days and nights cooped up in our attic after the river gushed into our home returns whenever we hear its angry waves at night. The river is just 50m from our home. Due to incessant rain, the shutters of various dams in the district have been opened and water level in the river has increased. We hope it doesn’t rise further and force our evacuation,” said Arattupuzha resident Bindu Georgy.
Water level in the Kakki-Anathodu dam touched 979.87m,as against the full capacity of 981.5m, necessitating the release of water. People living in low-lying areas and on the Pampa’s banks started leaving since Sunday evening and sought safe haven in the homes of their relatives and friends.
One such person was Neervilakom native Sreelakshmi. Her family, which comprises her two daughters studying in Class I and VII, shifted to her relatives’ home in Manarcaud on Monday. “We cannot spend another night in our house fearing the flood. Here, at least my children will be safe,” she said.
The rising water level in the Pampa has already affected houses in Venmony, Thiruvanvandoor, Budhanoor, Periserry, Aikattu, Neervilakom, Pandanad and Malakkara. Water has also inundated roads on the Thiruvanvandoor-Eramalikkara and Chengannur-Mangalam stretches. Around 32 relief camps have been opened in Chengannur alone and evacuation is going on in affected areas. “We want to believe that horrors of 2018 will not return. Back then, all our cattle were killed and the house was badly damaged. However, the heavy rainfall predicted from Wednesday is worrying us. We will not be able to bear another loss,” said Joseph Mathew, a resident of Vallakadavu, Ranni.
Fisheries and Cultural Affairs Minister Saji Cherian, who is the Chengannur MLA, visited relief camps in the constituency. He also called a review meeting to analyse the situation. “Saving lives is our top priority. People living in low-lying areas and near the banks of the Pampa should be very vigilant. This time, we are prepared. We experienced a far worse situation in 2018. Relief camps have been started and more are being set up. People should shift to safety if they are under threat. Water level is rising in Pandanad and Thiruvanvandoor,” he said.
Water from Pampa dam
Two shutters of Pampa dam, which is part of the Sabarigiri hydroelectric project under KSEB, to be raised after 5am on Tuesday
According to officials, it will raise the Pampa river’s water level by 10cm at the most in residential areas
Water will reach Pampa-Triveni after six hours
2,771 people from 802 families were shifted to 96 relief camps in P’thitta district till Monday evening