The Central Water Commission has concluded that the floods in Kerala last month were not caused by the dams releasing extra water, The Times of India reported on Monday. Most of the dams in the state, except Idukki, were already filled to capacity before the disaster struck, said the commission authorities in a report.
At least 483 people died in the state in rain-related incidents this monsoon. During the worst phase of the flooding in August, there were 14,50,707 people living in relief camps.
From August 15 to August 17, Kerala received 12 billion cubic metres of water, which was more than double the capacity of all the dams in the state. In the aftermath of the disaster, Kerala alleged that the release of excess water from the Mullaperiyar dam was one of the reasons for the floods. However, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami rejected the claims as “false and baseless”.
The commission report says that the dams neither added nor helped in reducing the flow of water. While standard operating procedure was followed, “above normal” rainfall in June and July and exceptionally high rainfall in August compounded the woes.
“The dams did not release anything extra of what they received,” said NN Rai, CWC Director of Hydrology. “The authorities released water in a very controlled manner. The commission has come to the conclusion after computing and analysing step-by-step inflow and outflow of water during the entire season.”
Encroachment of flood plains, activities in catchment areas and extreme weather events have been listed as the other reasons behind the intense flooding. The report, which was submitted to the Ministry of Water Resources last week, is set to be presented to the Kerala government on Monday.
Since the water-carrying capacity of reservoirs has decreased over the years, the commission recommended reconsidering their rule curves. A rule curve, derived by studying historical data, lists out how much empty storage needs to be maintained in a reservoir during different times.
Floods not man-made, says minister
On Saturday, Kerala Water Resources Minister Mathew T Thomas said the report agreed with the state’s stand, reported NDTV. “The CWC has concluded that it was not mismanagement of dams, rather extreme rainfall,” he said.
However, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala blamed the state for the “man-made disaster” and for mismanaging the dams. “The CWC is saving its own skin because it did not do its work,” he said. “Despite the warning, the state government did not open the dams.”