KOCHI: Ending hours of anxiety, the floodgates of the Idukki reservoir were opened at 11 am on Tuesday. The second, third and fourth shutters of the Cheruthoni dam, one of the three dams that form the Idukki reservoir, were opened in the presence of Electricity Minister K Krishnankutty and Water Resources Minister Roshy Augustine.
The ministers held a review meeting with higher officials before the opening of the shutters. The third shutter was opened at 11 am and the fourth one was opened at 12 noon. The second shutter was opened at 12.30 pm. Each shutter was opened after sounding the siren three times. Each shutter has been opened to a height of 35 cm releasing one lakh litres of water per second.
As the water gushed down the dam, the level rose in the Cheruthoni river which is a tributary of the Periyar. People living along the banks of the Periyar have been alerted and 222 people belonging to 64 families in five panchayats have been shifted to relief camps as a precautionary measure. The ministers said that all preparations have been made to meet any eventuality and the controlled release of water will not cause flooding. Water from the Idukki reservoir will reach Aluva and Kalady in Ernakulam district around 4 pm. The water release has been planned calculating the low time to ensure smooth drainage into the Arabian Sea.
The Idukki dam was last opened in 2018 during the August floods. The release of water from major dams amidst torrential rains had led to flooding across the state. As the sea was rough, the water did not drain into the sea which aggravated the flood situation. As many as 493 people were killed during the 2018 floods. However, the climate has been favourable this time and the sea is also relatively calm.
The water from the Idukki reservoir will flow down through Lower Periyar, Neriamangalam and Bhothathankettu dams to reach Kalady and Aluva by 4 pm.
The Idukki reservoir has three dams including the Idukki double curvature arch dam, Kulamavu dam and Cheruthoni dam. Only the Cheruthoni dam has shutters to release water. The water from the reservoir is taken to Moolamattom power station which has six turbines that generate 780 MW power. The arch dam is built between Kuravan and Kurathi rock hills. The Indo-Canadian project was inaugurated by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on February 17, 1976.
Pamba, Idamalayar dams opened
Water was released from Pamba and Idamalayar dams at 6 am on Tuesday. Two shutters of Pamba dam were opened to a height of 30 cm releasing 50,000 litres of water per second. The water level in the Pamba river rose by 10 cm as the water gushed down the reservoir.
Two shutters of Idamalayar dam were lifted to a height of 80 cm at 6 am on Tuesday. The water reached Bhoothathankettu reservoir by 8 am and Aluva at 12 noon. The water level in the Periyar river has risen by around one m at Aluva.