Water release from Kerala dam reservoir deferred

Idukki (Kerala), Sep 22 : The Kerala authorities Sunday decided to put off the opening of the shutters of a dam to release surplus water from the nearly full Idukki reservoir, a spectacle that hundreds of people are awaiting to see.

The Idukki reservoir has three dams and its water level has reached 2401.66 feet.

"There is no reason for opening the shutters in the coming three days," said K.K. Karuppankutty, chief engineer for dam safety, Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB), Sunday.

When the water level touches 2,402.15 feet, the shutters will be opened, he said the day before.

"We are monitoring the water level on an hourly basis and from our inferences, we do not see the possibility of opening the shutters. But if need be, we will reconsider the decision," said Karuppankutty.

If the shutters are indeed opened, it would be only the third time in the history of the reservoir, according to officials of the KSEB.

The shutters were earlier opened Oct 29, 1981 and Oct 11, 1992.

With Onam holidays ending Sunday, there has been an unprecedented rush of people from districts like Kottayam, Ernakulam, Pathanamthitta and also from parts of Idukki to the areas near the dam to see the spectacle of the dam shutters being opened.

TV channel crews have also been camping in the area for the past two days to capture the moment on camera.

The Idukki reservoir, commissioned in 1975, is impounded by three dams: Idukki arch dam, the Kulamavu dam and the Cheruthoni dam.

Of the three, only the Cheruthoni dam has shutters.

The KSEB, meanwhile, is making the best use of the water in the reservoir as a record 18.19 million units of power was generated in one day.

Revenue authorities have opened 14 control rooms in and around the areas where the water would flow in case the shutters of the dam were opened.

A special team of the National Disaster Response Force has already arrived in Idukki.

A special control room has been opened at the Kochi international airport, as the water released from the Cheruthoni dam could have an effect in and around the airport, even though it is located more than 100 km away.

The state government has also formed a task force of people's representatives from the district which has already made an assessment of the situation.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy was also monitoring the situation and said that there was no need for any knee-jerk reaction, as things were under control.

According to some news channels, if at all water is released from the reservoir it will take around eight hours to flow into the sea near Kochi.

--IANS (Posted on 22-09-2013)

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