Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Kerala Flood

Wanted to put this down somewhere and then left it but each time we go on a search for a new car I remember the flood. We lost our car or it got burnt after the recent flood. It was a 10 year old car but gave us no trouble and took us to many places. Son wants a sedan while hubby wants something with a higher ground clearance. Son missed the flood while we faced it and lost our trust in the system. What if there is one more? It is the same old system and none has so far taken responsibility for anything.

The rains in Kerala were on time this year(June) and the dams started to fill up early. I remember during mid July when the one of the highest arch dam in Asia, the Idukki dam started to fill up and the media along with the government started giving out numbers. These numbers where the imagined loss in terms of electricity that could be lost if the dams were opened.

Loss: Rs 220 crore

Nearly 10 million cubic feet of water will flow out of the reservoir in case the shutters are raised. Power worth Rs 220 crore can be generated with this water. Incidentally, the three dams in Idukki were built at a cost of Rs 110 crore.

And what is the loss after the flood? 40,000 crores as per this minister:

But there was also another factor; all the encroachments along the rivers that would be swallowed up if the dam is opened up. It was too many years (26 long years) since such an event occurred and people forgot while bribing officials. It was now up to the officials to save them. Their hands were tied up. But nature waits for none. It decided to give a huge blow to the puny humans. Nature did not have to say much. We humans may call it destruction but for nature it is pay back time.

Jul 31, 2018, 07:26 AM IST...…
Cheruthoni: The water level in Idukki dam reached 2395.42 feet. With the water level in the Idukki reservoir touching 2395 feet on Monday night, just …

Read more at:

The water around our house on 17th August 2018
When the floods were causing havoc in Idukki we were at Bangalore trying to settle down son who would be studying there. We wondered whether we would be able to drive back. We did by selecting safer routes while avoiding Idukki and the ghats. We did see angry rivers and massive downpour. We reached home safely and thought the worst was over. It was on August 14th that the river started to swell and spill and yet we thought it would be normal and may just wet the land and recede like before. 100 plus years and it has never happened? Why now? And then they opened up all the dams at night! They may have told a few sleepy heads that the dams are being opened and to take care. But they never told how to take care. So most of them stayed back. It slowly started climbing. We were able to shift most of our things upstairs. We asked for help but it was not coming. There were too many old ladies to take the risk of walking through the choppy waters. There was frantic call from my father who asked us to reach dry land so that he can pick us up. Who is going to drop us there? And then the telephone lines dropped, water finished. Luckily there was still rain water to be collected for cooking and for the rest we drew water from the overflowing rivers right under our roof. The boundary walls of our neighbors started falling loudly. What is the walls of the house failed? What if the dams broke? These were some of the fears that went though my mind else we had enough food and rain water.
The water around our house on 17th August 2018 - 
the river in front of the house..scary it is was..

Finally when the water started receding after almost 5 days and a fire and rescue dinghy came along. They wanted the older folks to leave the house immediately, so they did. They would be dropped at our church which had opened up as a relief camp. The rest of us including children held hands and started walking though the currents. We wanted to reach home since the camp was not an option for the elderly. Too cold it would be for them. There were only tractors and lorries which was not an option for 85 plus ladies. This is when hubby spotted a few good Samaritans on a jeep searching for a the family of a mutual friend. They agreed to ride through the waters and drop us at a place from where we could go to my parent’s place. The jeep was equipped to go through knee high waters and we reached Parumala where a low floor bus to Mavelikara was waiting to start it’s journey. Finally we reached dry land.

But has Kerala learned any lessons? Hopefully. Read that the buildings destroyed along the banks of the rivers will not be allowed to be reconstructed.

“We ignored the importance of wetlands. We ignored the sensitivity of ecologically fragile land. And in cities, we built buildings on leveled farmland. Now, where will the water drain? So, floods are not surprising,” he said.

Commenting on the impact of the rains and ensuing damage, Susheela Bhatt, a former state government advocate, said it was time for people to reflect. “After seeing this havoc, I think it’s high time to be retrospective,” she said.

This flood also reopens the old Mullaperiyar issue which can no longer be ignored.

Several studies have found similar flaws in the ageing dam. Mullaperiyar is a traditional gravity dam, the strength of which depends on its weight. George of Christ College says over the years, about 40 per cent of the lime from the core has leaked out, making it much weaker. Cracks, leaks and seepages have made the structure damp and wet, he adds.

Another key charge for the current state of disaster is the “unpreparedness of the state and the central government during this natural calamity as there is no plan which is announced or communicated to the public at large till date”

As of now, there is no record as to how many lives will be lost or the compensation that Tamil Nadu would need to pay to Kerala in case of a disaster. Maybe if this is in put in record people will realize it is not a child’s game.

But then this not all about Tamil Nadu or one dam. It is about Kerala and how complacent it was in manging it's affairs. Governments came one after the other and one hoped new laws would be put it place to protect nature and Kerala's precious assets. But then how would political parties collect money to fund their elections and their own greed? 

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