Aluva braces for floods as 2013 comparisons emerge

Aluva braces for floods as 2013 comparisons emerge

Aluva, Ernakulam

NDRF personnel in preparatory mode near the Mahadeva Temple in Aluva, in Ernakulam district, on Friday. DH Photo by R Krishnakumar

A day ahead of the vavu bali, a ritual performed for dead ancestors, at the Mahadeva Temple in Aluva, roads leading to the temple sport a different buzz.

On Friday, amid fears over the rising level in river Periyar, people gather around the Shiva temple to watch policemen and personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) prepare for contingencies.

Many have turned up with families, clicking selfies, with the submerged temple forming a default backdrop. Most of them also have a ready take on what the town could witness if the river, indeed, spills over.

With five sluices of the Cheruthoni dam in Idukki open, the town is preparing for floods. “The water has not even reached here; it’s too early to say how it would impact life here. But from whatever I’ve seen of the river, it gives us time to be ready,” said Chandrasekharan, a resident. Preparations for the bali ritual are on at the temple and till evening, the event is on schedule.

“It’s easily the town’s biggest event. The manappuram (the open ground where the rituals are performed) has submerged and alternative arrangements could be made at nearby spots,” Ranju, an auto-rickshaw driver, said.

The state government estimates about 6,500 families living along the river to be relocated as water passes through the lower Periyar and Bhoothathankettu dams and reaches Aluva — late on Friday night — before joining the Arabian Sea.

“I can’t remember the water in such quantities being released into Periyar. We only hope that the preparations have been effective since this was building up for some time,” Vimala, a 68-year-old resident of Angamaly, about 12 km from the town, said.

In Aluva, about 30 km from Kochi, the build-up to the evening has been marked by understated caution. In a hotel near the town’s metro station, a middle-aged man was heard enquiring about rooms for “two families” since he reckons their homes in a low-lying suburb could be flooded.

A hotel manager was also heard pitching “river-view” rooms to customers. Comparisons have already emerged with 2013 when water released from Idamalayar dam led to flooding in the town.

On the Aluva bridge, people continued to make a stop for selfies with the river, serene under the evening sun. The selfie rush and crowding on the bridge had earlier forced police to use curtains to block the view from one flank of the bridge.

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