Kerala monsoon rains pain
In God's Own Country (Kerala), the benevolence of the rain gods since Sunday has become a bane for most citizens of the state.
With the local met office reporting that the state has received 40 percent excess rains in the past two months against previous years, gates of dams like Peechi, Neriamangalam and Erattayar have been opened to lower the levels of water that have collected in their reservoirs.
Lakes and rivers are also in spate while landslides have claimed 14 lives in the hilly district of Idukki and two in Ernakulam district.
The heavy monsoon has thrown a spanner in the farming activities.
James Joseph of Thiruvalla in Pathanamthitta district rues: "What's the use of rubber prices heading north and reaching Rs.190 a kg when rains are not allowing any tapping. Life is tough as I have no other vocation. I am surviving on money borrowed from my rubber dealer."
A kindergarten student in Thiruvananthapuram is puzzled. He shoots a query: "Why is it raining every day? My teacher does not allow us to play outside."
The big dams of the state are posing high risk to residents living neareby.
People living in and around the 116-year-old Mullaperiyar dam are living in fear as the water level is rising. It has reached 133.4 feet and if it continues rising, it would soon cross the danger mark of 136 feet.
Idukki District Collector P.A. Bagawat Rao has warned that if the rain persists, the dam water level would breach the permitted level.
Rao said: "We have requested the state government to prevail upon the Tamil Nadu government to draw more water from the dam and slow down the pace of increase in water level."
The Idukki dam, the state's biggest, is close to 80 percent full. The dam gates would have to be opened if the level rises another 18 feet, jeopardising the lives of those living on the banks of Periyar river.
Senior citizens are facing a torrid time. Retired professor Thomas Mathew (85) is fed up with the rains as he finds moving his frail body an ordeal.
"I do not recall a worse rainy season. Life is boring as watching TV has become a luxury since there is no power supply because wind and rain have snapped electric wires," said a peeved Mathew.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy Tuesday morning hopped on to a helicopter for an aerial survey of the affected areas. He would chair an all-party meeting in the evening to discuss the damage caused by incessant rain and landslides.
Authorities are expecting that they will be able to open the Cochin airport later in the day after it was closed Monday when water gushed into the parking bay and taxi way, resulting in 40 flights being cancelled.
(Posted on 06-08-2013)