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india | IST

Kerala rains: Minister says current situation manageable, heavy rainfall expected over next 2-3 days; orange alert in 11 districts

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Torrential rains and landslides have claimed more than 38 lives across the Kerala state in the past week. The Met department has warned of a fresh bout of heavy rainfall starting tomorrow.

After a relative respite of two days, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Tuesday issued an orange alert for 11 districts of Kerala indicating heavy rainfall. The weatherman has put 12 districts in the state on orange alert for Thursday as well. 
The orange alert has been issued in Thiruvananthapuram, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Idukki, Thrissur, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad and Kannur districts for October 20. Except for Kannur and Kasaragod, there is an orange alert for other districts on October 21 also.
A red alert indicates heavy to extremely heavy rains of over 20 cm in 24 hours, while an orange alert denotes very heavy rains from 6 cm to 20 cm of rains. A yellow alert means heavy rainfall between 6 to 11 cm.
Torrential rains and landslides have claimed more than 38 lives across Kerala in the past week. The Met department has warned of a fresh bout of heavy rainfall starting tomorrow.
In order to prepare for the heavy rainfall expected over the next three days, the administration has opened the gates of Idukki Dam on the Periyar river. The state's Water Resources Minister Roshy Augustine said that the decision was taken to control the water level of the dam at 2,396 feet. He added that only a limited amount of water was being released as a part of the precautionary exercise.
The state government has also released water from the Edamalayar dam in Ernakulam district as the water level rose to around 166 metres versus its maximum capacity of 171 metres.
Kerala Finance Minister KN Balagopal said it is a very difficult situation for people, “Today, rain is controlled but for last two days, it was very, very severe and damages were very high, more than 24 people died and some are missing even now." He said many houses, roads and assets have been damaged and water is still logged in low-level areas and transportation and practical life is affected
“The fear is about the coming days,” he said, adding that it will start raining heavily in the next few days, which can again lead to more problems. 
Balagopal said that dam management has been planned in a phased manner. The dams were opened with proper management, with technicians and technical people addressing the authorities, he said. According to him, the present situation can be managed and is unlikely to aggravate at this moment.
Commenting on the evacuation of people, Balagopal said, “If the situation continues like this, that is if it is under control, then I think more evacuation is not needed. If it rains heavily again, then we will have to think about evacuating people from lower level areas and riverside areas.”
He also highlighted that landslides are a very serious issue in hilly areas and therefore arrangements need to be made to shift those people from their houses. Many people are in camps and they may have to continue in the camp for a few more days and then can return home after two to three days, he said.
Watch the accompanying video for more.
Text inputs from PTI