Authorities in India’s southern Kerala state have evacuated residents and sounded a flooding alert after the gates of a dam malfunctioned, leading to a dangerous increase in the downstream river flow.
One of the three shutters of the Parambikulam dam, the country’s largest artificial reservoir, was damaged overnight on Wednesday.
The shutter of the dam, on the Parambikulam river in the Palakkad district, which usually opens up to 10 centimetres at a time, fell wide open, releasing about 20,000 cubic metres of water per second.
Authorities were making efforts to plug the leakage and two shutters of the dam were lifted by 10cm each to prevent damage from rising water pressure.
The sudden flow of water raised concerns of flooding in low-lying areas near the dam, and two dozen families living downstream were moved to safety.
“People from Parambikulam tribal area are being relocated due to the excessive flow of water,” Mrunmai Joshi, top district officer, said.
The overflowing water from the dam was reaching the Chalakkudy river in adjoining Thrissur, where authorities advised fishermen to stay out of the water.
Television images showed the raging water gushing into the Chalakkudy river.
An alarm was raised after security personnel heard the loud noise of the water at around 2am as it flowed from the dam.
Although the dam is situated in Kerala, it is operated by neighbouring Tamil Nadu state, assistant district magistrate Manikandan said.
“The engineers from Tamil Nadu are at the dam and fixing the damage. We are expecting it to be fixed today. Presently, the situation is under control,” Mr Manikandan told The National.