The shutters of the Mullaperiyar dam in Kerala’s Idukki district were opened on Friday as the water level in the reservoir breached 138 feet, reported Onmanorama.

Shutters three and four of the dam were opened by 0.30 metres around 7.30 am, an official said. Since Friday morning, 538.16 cusecs of water has been released from the two shutters, according to the authorities.

The 126-year-old dam is managed by the Tamil Nadu government. The water level in the dam rose after heavy rain in Kerala in October.

Kerala Revenue Minister K Rajan and state Water Resources Minister Roshy Augustine were present when the gates of the dam were opened on Friday morning.

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Rajan urged residents not to panic as the state government had taken steps to ensure people’s safety. However, he asked residents to remain cautious. The Kerala government also warned against the social media rumours.

As the shutters were opened, a red alert was issued for those residing close to the reservoir in Idukki, reported PTI. Augustine said that the Idukki reservoir would be able to hold the water that was being released from Mullaperiyar dam.

Idukki reservoir’s storage capacity is 70.5 thousand million cubic feet, compared to 12.75 tmc of the Mullaperiyar dam, the minister said. He added that the release of water from Mullaperiyar would increase the level in Idukki by a quarter of a foot.

However, a total of 1,079 residents from 350 families living downstream of the Mullaperiyar dam were shifted to other places as a precautionary measure before the dam’s shutters were raised.

In view of opening the shutters of the Mullaperiyar dam, the Kerala government has formed special teams in several departments, including revenue, health, forest and police, according to PTI. Patrolling will also be done in the areas where residents have evacuated their homes.

Meanwhile, the Kerala government told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that the Mullaperiyar dam should be decommissioned as it is extremely vulnerable and a new one must be built in its place.

The court has been hearing the state government’s petition, which has argued that the water level in the Mullaperiyar dam should not be allowed to cross 139 feet. This is three feet below the 142-foot-limit set by the Supreme Court in 2014.

On Sunday, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had urged his Tamil Nadu counterpart MK Stalin to draw water from the Mullaperiyar dam.