Thiruvananthapuram: Three years ago when Kerala witnessed the worst floods in a century, the Pinarayi Vijayan government came under severe flak for the dam management protocols and it even went to the court, but this time with one round of floods taking place, three shutters of Cheruthoni dam, part of the Idukki reservoir were opened on Tuesday.
“People should not be over confident by seeing a break in rainfall today. All people, especially those who live in coastal, hilly or other disaster-prone areas must be very vigilant. The forecast of weather department may go wrong sometime, but we should not neglect warnings,” said Pinarayi.
He also said that as per the weather forecast the state will receive intense rain for three days from October 20.
The national weather forecasting agency, India Meteorological Department (IMD), on Tuesday, sounded an orange alert for Thiruvananthapuram, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, and other districts for October 20 in rain-battered Kerala.
Other districts that have been issued with an orange alert include Ernakulam, Idukki, Thrissur, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad and Kannur districts.
A yellow alert has been sounded in Kasargod, Alapuzha and Kollam district for October 20.
Meanwhile, predicting the weather conditions, the weather forecasting agency issued an orange alert in Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Idukki, Thrissur, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode and Wayanad districts on October 21 while Kannur and Kasargod districts will remain on yellow alert on Tuesday.
This comes amid incessant rainfall in the state over the past few days.
Meanwhile, dam authorities in Kerala are taking cognizance of the situation arising out of the torrential rainfall. Shutters of several dams have been opened to prevent them from overflowing.
According to official estimates, heavy rains in the state have claimed the lives of 27 people. Of these, 14 deaths were reported in Kottayam district, 10 in Idukki district, and one each in Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur and Kozhikode districts.
Incidentally on Monday Vijayan held an emergency meeting and decided to hand over the responsibility of opening dams to a special committee, as in 2018, there were massive floods which submerged parts of Ernakulam and Trissur districts and the then State Electricity Minister M.M. Mani came under heavy criticism for the way opening of dams was undertaken.
With more heavy rains predicted on Wednesday and Thursday, the decision was made on Monday that as a matter of abundant caution, it would be best if the shutters of the Cheruthoni dam are opened on Tuesday and it was done, when three of the seven shutters were opened and in a matter of seconds, one lakh litres of water from the reservoir ran down the pathway to the canal.
This is just the fourth time that the shutters have been lifted -- first in 1981, then in 1992 and in 2018 and now.
The decision to close the shutters will be taken after taking into account what happens when heavy rains across the state take place, as predicted.
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition V.D. Satheesan on Tuesday slammed the Vijayan government for making a mess of the way the state government handled the forecast.
"The forecast by the concerned authorities had come much before but strangely nothing happened here. The disaster management authority here has become the biggest disaster. None should forget the way the Left Democratic Front organised a total shut down to protest against the Madhav Gadgil report (a few years back) stating that it was anti- farmer. The need of the hour is to take steps to protect the farmers and also the nature," said Satheesan.
State Revenue Minister K. Rajan said according to the forecast heavy rains are expected in the state from October 20 till October 23.
"The predictions by the IMD last week did not suggest of even any alert in Kottayam and Idukki districts at all. It was in these districts that maximum loss took place," said Rajan.
Meanwhile with the Kerala Assembly session all set to resume after the Puja break from Wednesday, according to a source, with the weather continuing to play havoc and more bad weather predicted, there is every likelihood that after Wednesday's session, it would be stopped again and to resume once the weather situation improves, as in most places it's the legislators who are at the forefront of relief and rescue operations.