Najiya O, TwoCircles.net
Kozhikode: While heavy rains continue to lash across the hills and plains of Kerala, the state has declared a Red Alert in all the 14 districts. The death toll has risen to 79, with 18 people losing their lives on Wednesday. The Cochin International Airport has suspended its operations till 2 pm on Saturday (18 August 2018) due to the rising water levels. The Army, Navy, Fire Force, other government forces and various volunteering organisations are fully involved in the rescue and relief activities.
The Chief Minister today convened an emergency meeting of high-level officials to analyse the alarming situations. He directed the officials and those agencies in the relief operations to remain highly cautious, following the warning of the Meteorological Department that the rains would continue till Saturday. He also requested the people and volunteering organisations to involve themselves fully in the rescue and relief operations. Special officers would be recruited to assist the senior officials who are handling the relief and rescue operations without any rest in several districts. Senior IAS officers would also be appointed to manage operations of the state control room, contacting with neighbouring states, manage fresh water availability and facilities etc.
Flash floods and landslides have again been reported from many places which were hit by them earlier. The shutters of those dams which have been closed owing to a decrease in the amount of rain were again opened last day. The level of the shutters in some dams was again raised. This led to the water levels to increase in the flooded areas, and those who were evacuated to the relief camps from the banks of the River Periyar will again have to wait to return to their homes. The hill town of Munnar has been isolated; Munnar town remains flooded while it’s all landslides in the access areas. The hilly Wayanad district also remains isolated and several areas are inaccessible due to the sudden landslides and flash floods. Even though several relief camps have been opened in the district just like the rest of Kerala, there are several areas where rescue personnel have not yet been able to reach. However, the rescue and relief activities of various NGOs and local youth clubs and groups are becoming highly helpful for the disaster-hit souls in these difficult times.
All the five shutters of the Idukki Dam were re-opened last day as the continuing downpour again raised the water levels which had earlier come down a bit. The shutters of the Mullaperiyar Dam were opened in the early hours of Wednesday. Now all the 11 shutters of the dam have been raised and 4400 cubic feet water is being released. So far, a total of 35 dams have been opened in various parts of the state.
It was announced in the morning that the operations of the Cochin International Airport would be suspended till 2 pm on Wednesday. Soon it was extended to Saturday, owing to the rising water levels as the shutters of both Idukki Dam and Mullaperiyar Dam were raised. A control room has also been opened at the airport with the contact numbers 0484-2610115, 2610094. The Air India Express would now operate all its services from Thiruvananthapuram. The different flights which were to land at the Cochin Airport were diverted to Kozhikode, Mumbai and Bengaluru. The State Government has decided to approach the Civil Aviation Ministry to ask the possibility of small flights to be allowed to land at the naval airport in Kochi, as well to opt Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram airports instead of Mumbai or others when diverting flights. The Chief Minister also directed to arrange State Transport buses (KSRTC) to bring those who alight at Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram airports to their respective places.
The floods have also affected the distribution of fresh water from the rivers of Pamba, Bharathappuzha, Periyar and Chaliyar. Several pump sets have got damaged, and water cleansing plants have stopped functioning. The Chief Minister has directed to collect water from those places where fresh water is still available and to distribute it to the needy places. He has also requested wise usage of the available fresh water.
Heavy rainfall, accompanied by gusty winds with speed reaching upto 60 kmph has been forecasted in the districts of Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Idukki, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur and Kozhikode, and fishermen have been directed not to go to the sea. People have also been alerted not to get down in the sea on the beaches.
Thursday has been declared holiday for educational institutions in 13 districts. The state government has decided to postpone the terminal examinations in schools scheduled to start on August 31, after the schools reopen following the Onam holidays. The decision was taken as several schools are doubling up as relief camps for those affected by the torrential downpour.
Five passenger trains have been cancelled and many are running late as several parts of the railway tracks were submerged in water. Mud has also covered the tracks in many places due to landslides. The speed of those trains running has been reduced due to the heavy rains. The disruption in the train services is another great blow to the smooth transportation in the state which has already got its road transport disrupted.
Meanwhile, several business groups and noted personalities in various fields have contributed generously to the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund. More contributions have been invited too to the fund. http://www.cmdrf.kerala.gov.in/
The state has opened a new website to coordinate the rescue and relief activities going on in different parts of the state https://keralarescue.in/
The State has also opened a Control Room especially for the present monsoon situation.
State Control Room: 0471 2331639, 1070, 1077
Thiruvananthapuram: 0471 2730045
Kollam: 0474 2794003
Pathanamthitta: 0468 2322515
Alappuzha: 0477 2238630
Kottayam: 0481 2562201
Idukki: 0486 2233111, 9061566111, 9383463036
Ernakulam: 0484 2423513, 7902200300, 7902200400
Thrissur: 0487 2362424, 9447074424
Palakkad: 0491 2505309
Malappuram: 0483 2736320
Kozhikode: 0495 2371002
Kannur: 0468 2322515
Kasargode: 0499 4257700