Did Kerala's dams exacerbate India's once-in-century floods?

Source(s)
Thomson Reuters

By Euan Rocha, Rajendra Jadhav, Promit Mukherjee

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Reuters has learned the two largest reservoirs in Kerala - Idukki and Idamalayar - have been operating for years without any emergency action plans - a basic requirement for major dams worldwide. The reservoirs also lack "rule curves", another key safety protocol that dictates the level of water that can safely be maintained behind a dam at any point given seasonal factors.

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The data also shows that if the water levels in Idukki and Idamalayar had been slowly lowered to closer to their historical averages in the two weeks before the worst flooding began they would have been able to absorb all the rain that fell during the mid-August storm.

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James Wilson, who works for the Kerala government as special officer on a inter-state water advisory committee, said blaming KSEB was unfair, as Kerala's dams only have the capacity to store less than a tenth of the state's annual rainfall, and even less in years of extreme rainfall.

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While opposition parties in Kerala have demanded a judicial probe into the release of dam water, state officials have blamed the India Meteorological Department (IMD) for poor forecasts and the release of water into Idukki reservoir from Mullaperiyar - a dam managed by next-door Tamil Nadu state - for exacerbating the flooding.

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