With just 5 feet left for the Stanley Reservoir, which now stands at 115 feet, to reach its full capacity, officials in Salem and Dharmapuri have sounded a flood alert to residents living in areas along the banks of the Cauvery on Saturday.
The dam is expected to reach its capacity of 120 feet for the first time in 8 years following the fresh and heavy discharge from Krishnaraja Sagar and Kabini reservoirs owing to heavy rains in the catchments in Karnataka.
Sources said, around 1.3 lakh cusecs was flowing in the Cauvery at Biligundlu on Saturday due to the heavy flow.
Salem Collector K Maharabushanam has issued the first flood warning to people living downstream and has initiated steps to facilitate evacuation in case of any emergency. Besides a team of officials were closely monitoring the situation to deal with any eventuality. Sources also said that at 5.05 pm on Saturday, 1.3 lakh cusecs was flowing into the State following which the storage in the Mettur Dam rose to 115 feet. Anticipating floods, the Public Works Department (PWD) and revenue officials, a few days ago warned residents of low lying areas to move to safer places.
The second warning is likely to be issued when the level touches 117 feet and the third warning after the dam attains the Full Reservoir Level (FRL).
Meanwhile, PWD sources said as and when the dam reaches its full capacity, all the inflow would be let out. It is expected that by 11 a.m., on Sunday, the discharge from Mettur will be about one lakh cusecs.
Flood warning has been issued to the people living along Cauvery in the districts of Salem, Erode, Trichy, Karur, Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, Nagapattinam and Cuddalore. People are advised not to enter the river for washing and bathing purposes and to prevent their livestock from entering the river.
PWD officials expect that the dam might touch FRL by Saturday midnight. In 1924, during the final phases of the construction of Mettur Dam, water flow had increased to 2.5 lakh cusecs resulting in floods. Following the floods, the engineers built a 16 vent ‘surplus weir’ called Ellis Sadle (named after the British Engineer Col W M Ellis who conceived the idea).
Hogenakkal on Alert
Meanwhile, in Dharmapuri the increased flow has triggered flood fears. All the pathways to water falls, hanging bridge and boat house among other places in the tourist hub of Hogennakal have been closed by the district administration.
Residents of low-lying areas have been shifted to safer places and more than 50 families have provided shelter at a Panchayat Union Elementary S chool in Hogenakkal.