Maintain dam water levels scientifically, Kerala govt issues directive to KSEB to avoid monsoon floods

Thiruvananthapuram: The State government has initiated precautionary measures to avoid overflowing of dams that may trigger floods during the monsoon.

In a directive issued to the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) and Department of Irrigation, the government ordered the authorities to maintain water levels in major dams scientifically based on the rule curve.

The rule curve, or rule level, specifies the empty space to be maintained in a reservoir during different periods of the year. Most dams in Kerala are under KSEB or the Irrigation Department.

It has also been decided to evaluate and review the water levels every three and 10 days, respectively.

A meeting Chief Secretary C P Joy convened in the backdrop of Tauktae and Yaas cyclones made the decision.

A study by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru had blamed the unscientific and faulty management of dam water levels for aggravating the 2018 floods.

The findings of the Comptroller and Auditor General-assigned study had sparked a controversy during the run-up to the recent Assembly polls.

It has been estimated that despite the reservoirs having water above average in May, major dams could hold more even if June received rainfall in excess.

The meeting directed the authorities concerned not to release water in huge quantities if the months of July and August received very heavy rains within a short period. Water levels should be kept under control for such an eventuality, the government instructed.

KSEB officials, meanwhile, pointed out the opposition from people living downstream rivers when the board tried to ramp up power generation to keep the water level low. The residents protested after the torrential rains had flooded their houses.

Meanwhile, the KSEB issued the second phase orange-code alert ahead of releasing water from the Peringalkuthu dam. The alert was issued after the water level touched 418.8 metres.

The first phase, blue alert was issued for those living downstream the Ponmudy dam in Idukki, after the water level rose to 704.95 metres.

Though the water levels in Idukki, Edamalayar, Kakki and Banasura dams have been above the levels recorded during the summer of 2018, their shutters need not be raised now.

The Irrigation Department has issued a yellow alert ahead of releasing water as a precautionary measure from 13 of its dams.