Faith versus flood fear at Kerala’s Iduki dam

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Idukki (Kerala), July 31 (IANS) The Idukki dam, where the water level is inching up towards the danger level, has come to symbolise the tenuous ties between faith and the fear of floods. A ‘puja’ was performed on Tuesday, praying for the dam gates to remain shut so that nearby areas escape flooding. The last time the gates were opened was in 1992.

All this while the water level stood at 2,395 metres, just 4 meters below the danger level, prompting the authorities to issue an ‘orange alert.’

According to a legend, it was Chemban Karuvellayan Kolumban, the head of ‘Oorali’ race in 1922, identified the present spot of the dam located between the Kuravan and Kurathi granite hills.

Those who were responsible for constructing the dam were impressed by the sight of water flow between the mountains.

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But the construction of the dam began in 1969. A power station was commissioned on February 12, 1976 by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

The authorities decided to honour Kolumban by erecting a memorial in his honour near the dam. The ‘puja’ was performed on Tuesday by his grandson, Bhaskaran.

“The Electricity Board authorities donated the money for the puja. Every one prayed that if the dam shutters were to be opened, there should be no problem to anyone, as the water would rush downstream,” said Bhaskaran.

State Minister for Water Resources Mathew T.Thomas is making all arrangements to see that everything is in order. He told reporters in Idukki on Tuesday that in case the shutters are opened, first on a trial basis, “there should be nothing that should go wrong.”

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The residents living in and around the low-lying areas of downstream have already been alerted.

The district authorities have made elaborate arrangements and a 1,000-strong police force is camping in the area to tackle any eventuality. –IANS

SG/prs/sed

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