Thiruvananthapuram: Continuing heavy downpours in Kerala have taken the water level in the Idukki dam close to 729.9 metres, prompting authorities to consider opening the dam’s shutters.

The Idukki hydroelectric project has been a feather in the cap for Kerala’s hydro-power generation sector, and a high water level normally means bright prospects and robust revenues for the Kerala State Electricity Board. However, as the water level rises to tipping point, there is fear among people living in the vicinity of the dam.

The state power minister M.M. Mani had stated last week that the state was prepared to open the dam’s shutters if the situation warranted it.

An orange alert will be given when the water level touches 729.9 metres in the dam, which has a maximum storage capacity of 731.5 metres.

There is also speculation that authorities may not wait till the water level touches 731.5 metres, and instead may begin to release water from the time the water level hits 730 metres.

The extended monsoon rains in Kerala have caused widespread devastation in the state, with a number of areas including Kuttanad, Kerala’s traditional rice bowl, continuing to be inundated in flood waters.

More than 30,000 people are estimated to be living in camps supported by the government after their houses were damaged or submerged by the rain waters.