IDUKKI: From politics to crops and climate vagaries, residents of Vallakadavu — a sleepy village nestled in the downstream of the Mullaperiyar dam — gather at a small junction at Kurishumoodu everyday to talk about everything under the sun and more. The regular crowd comprising farmers, forest workers, tea sellers and daily wagers was little different on Friday morning. The topic of discussion, however, solely surrounded the swelling Periyar river.
Fortunately, Periyar flowed quite as it is, although it carried a torrent of held-up water released via the spillway of the Mullaperiyar dam on Friday. Though the authorities raised two shutters (3 and 4) of the reservoir to release nearly 550 cusecs of water, it only led to a 0.5ft increase in the river’s water level. “The dam’s shutters were raised by 7.30am. But the water level in Periyar started to surge only by 10.45am,” said Lazar M, an area resident.
As many as 288 people who feared the possibility of a flood had shifted to relief camps opened in Manjumala, Elappara, Periyar, Upputhara and Anavilasam villages ahead of the raising of the shutters, while others sought shelter in the houses of relatives and friends living on higher grounds.
Even though the authorities had warned residents of possible floods downstream, the water hardly hampered normal life. Even areas such as Attoram in Manjumala and Vallakadavu in Vandiperiyar, which are chronically prone to flooding, did not report any such situation.
“We have been on high alert over the last few days as the weather department had predicted heavy rainfall and the dam gate opening was also announced,” said Ramesh Madhavan, deputy tahsildar in charge of Peermade taluk.
“However, no case of flooding has been reported from Manjumala and Periyar villages of Peermade taluk so far. A decision on whether the camp inmates should be sent back to their homes will be taken after assessing the weather situation in the coming days,” the deputy tahsildar added.