Kerala floods man-made: Congress

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Thiruvananthapuram : The Congress on Wednesday said that the floods in Kerala, the worst in a century, were man-made and due to faulty dam management.

Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala told the media that the tragedy took place because of lack of coordination between the Power Minister, the Water Resource Ministers and the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB).

"This monsoon, Kerala received 41.44 per cent more rains and all the (sluice gates of the) dams were opened without proper analysis or impact studies... People were totally unaware that the dams were being opened," he said.

In Kerala, the dams are managed either by the KSEB or the Water Resources Ministry. The worst affected districts due to the floods were Idukki, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha and Wayanad which have the maximum number of dams.

"The rains this season were far less than in 1924. The tragedy that took place this time was because weather forecasts were overlooked and callousness," the Congress leader said.

"The Idukki dam's maximum water capacity is 2,403 feet. Since July 15, its capacity had reached 90 per cent. On July 31, the water level was at 2,395.68 feet and Power Minister M.M. Mani said a trial run would be conducted when the level touches 2,397 feet.

"He did not do so. When the water level touched 2,398 feet on August 9, the first floodgate was opened," said Chennithala.

He said that in Chalakuddy in Thrissur district, one of the worst hit places, the sluice gates of all the six dams were opened together.

"The Kerala government has failed to learn from the Ockhi disaster. The Chief Minister had promised to revamp the Disaster Management Authority by bringing in experts. That file is still in his office... This is nothing but a man-made disaster."

Dismissing Chennithala's allegations, Dam Safety Authority Chairman, Justice (retd) C.N. Ramachandran Nair said: "Things are being exaggerated and I do not believe all the allegations that have been raised are true."

KSEB Chairman N.S. Pillai agreed that the dams' sluice gates were opened simultanesouly but the board operated based on proper planning and coordination.

"I can provide all the details of what and how we operated. Everything worked according to a proper plan," said Pillai.

Power Minister Mani said all the allegations would be looked into.

Revenue Minister E. Chandrasekheran said this was not a time to play blame games and "instead concentrate on the biggest relief operations the government is overseeing".

About one million people are sheltered in over 3,000 relief camps in Kerala following the devastating floods, the worst since 1924. The death toll since the monsoon rains began on May 29 has been estimated at around 370.