Cheruthoni: With the Tamil Nadu Government promising to open the shutters of the Mullaperiyar Dam early on Friday, an all-out effort to shift a few thousand people from the banks of River Periyar in Kerala's Idukki district is on.
Mary Ishukutty and her family members are concerned more than anyone else living on the vulnerable areas as water released from the dam is expected to reach their doorstep first.
Mary and her family members have been living on the banks of the Periyar at Vallakadavu, near Vandiperiyar on the Thekkady-Kottayam route, for the last 35 years. It will take hardly 20 minutes for the dam water to reach Vallakadavu, which is a populated area in Idukki district's Peermade taluk. The dam is situated a little upstream of Vallakkadavu village.
Like all those who live on the banks of the Periyar river, Mary is scared that water will enter her house if the dam is opened. But Mary's only request to the government is not to open the dam without prior warning as had happened in 2018.
It is still fresh in Mary's memories of those horrifying days in the year 2018 when water from the Mullaperiyar dam was released to the Periyar river without any alert on August 15.
It was on August 14 when she was about to sleep, a group of people came and asked her to shift to the relief camp along with the family members. "Children and grandchildren were all there in the house. We could not shift from there to the camp that night. But fate had its way. Water entered the house during that night. The kitchen was submerged in the water. But we managed to escape as water did not come to the second floor," she said.
"Kitchen utensils and household furniture were all destroyed in 2018. It took many days to clean the well situated on my plot. Water entered my house premises during the heavy rain in the last couple of weeks too," she did not hide her anxiety.
As reported earlier the Idukki district administration has decided to shift around 3,220 persons living on the banks of the Periyar river to relief camps ahead of the opening of the floodgates of the Mullaperiyar Dam.
The district administration issued a second warning for residents on Thursday morning. The vulnerabale areas also include Upputhara, Elappara, Periyar and Manju Mala villages in Peermade taluk, Ayyappan Kovil and Kanjiyar villages in Idukki taluk, and Aanavilasam village in Udumbanchola taluks. Control rooms have been opened by various departments as part of the relief operations. The Forest Department has opened control rooms at Vandiperiyar and Vallakadavu.
After 7 am on Friday, Tamil Nadu is expected to release 5,800 cusecs water, from which after they take 2,300 cusecs through the Vaigai basin, the rest will be released into Kerala.