Just 15 days back, the satisfaction of seeing plentiful rains across the state has quickly turned to a horror of sorts, as the rains just increased in intensity, inundating Kerala in the highest rainfall seen by the state in over a century of recorded history. Playing blame games is a poor idea at this stage.
Kerala’s monsoon travails, which have only now started to get national attention, came with just enough warning. It was just 20 days back that the state government declared that the Idukki reservoir would be opened, for the first time in 26 years, as rains had already taken waters close to the brim, or Full Reserve Level of the reservoir. While August 1 was set as the date for opening up the gates, the gates would be opened a little earlier finally, to test all processes. In the event the dam has held up perfectly, but the supporting cast of rains has not, with the ever increasing intensity of rainfall worsening an already grim situation.
So much so, that for the first time in its history, shutters at 35 of its 39 dams have been opened, an unprecedented action never seen before, and many will hope, something they never see again.
If you go by the figures, you will see a ‘manageable’ 32% increase in total rainfall for the state, as compared to its long term average. For the period June 1 to August 15. But take it to the past one week, and you will realise the shock the state is experiencing. Rainfall is a full 257% above normal across the state in the past week. Idukki, the worst hit district with the largest dam to boot, has experienced a 447% deviation from the usual, at 679mm of rain, versus 126 mm of rain . To put that in perspective, Delhi, for all its infrastructure and attention, goes completely under at rainfall in excess of 60mm as we have seen this year, while the city was brought to a complete standstill when it received its highest ever of 144 mm back in 2016. Idukki has been coping with those numbers, and more, EVERY single day for seven days now, combined with the forced release of waters from the three dams in the district. While some of the disasters like landslides could be blamed on poorly planned urbanisation and deforestation, the fact is, no city or state in India has planned for these levels of deviations from the norm, as we have repeatedly seen. The closure of Kochi airport till August 26, or even Aug 29 as some are indicating, is an indication of the sheer volume of water the state has to manage.
It is time to put petty differences aside, and step in and do what you can for Kerala’s challenge of the century. We strongly recommend support for the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund, at https://donation.cmdrf.kerala.gov.in/. Pls do donate, if you can. there has never been a period when the state has needed support, ever.