Four days back, all of us had to vacate our Right Origins office in Aluva, Kochi, and leave with all the important files, computers and systems and everything. The office-building we left behind was flooded and left sunk in the water from Periyar for four days now.
Kerala is in the middle of the biggest disaster it has ever faced. The heavy rains and the flood have completed submerged many parts in central Kerala, and the disastrous landslides have completely alienated most of the high ranges of Idukki and Wayanad. The heavy downpour has not ceased in the last one week and has compelled 38 of the 42 dams in Kerala to be opened resulting in huge overflow of rivers. The scenario here in the state is that the rivers are running with kilometres in width over its banks.
All the fourteen districts in the state were declared ‘red-alert’, and in the last five days – lakhs of people are moved to relief cams across the state, thousands still stuck at rooftops without food and water for days waiting to be rescued, and more than 300 lost their lives already.
The government, army, navy, air force, along with all the people of Kerala are running combined rescue operations in the flood-ridden areas night and day to rescue all the people they can. Everyone in the state and across the world is contributing to the relief fund and pooling help resources, food, clothes and other necessities for the thousands who had to vacate their sinking homes to emergency relief camps.
And all of this started first in Idukki. Last Friday, on 10th Aug, the shutters of the Idukki Cheruthoni dam were opened after twenty-five years. And the next day, for the first time ever since it was built, all of the five shutters of it were opened flushing out 1.5 lakh litres of water per second. The Cheruthoni town falling right under it is as of now evacuated and the Cheruthoni bridge which we used to cross each time on our way for procurement, is now submerged under water. And not just the Idukki dam, ‘Bhoothathankett’, ‘Idamalayar’ and all other dams along with it has crossed its maximum capacity and is completely let open for the water to run down. And at the bottom level, the Periyar river that takes all this water to the Arabian sea is overflowing for kilometres of its banks, flooding most of Aluva town along with our office in it.
Our regular farmers in Idukki won’t get affected by this water from the reservoir (Unless the unimaginable happens!), but for them, how this non-ceasing rain descends its wrath is through landslides. Murikkasseri, Rajapuram, Upputhodu and all these regular areas we go each week are all no more like as they were. Continues landslide every day in the hills have destroyed their land, houses, and even claimed a number of lives in the last one week. The relief camps here in Rajapuram and Mariapuram houses hundreds of people today. But the rain still pours down on us with no intention of stoppage.
This is, without doubt, the biggest disaster Kerala has faced in this century. But even when there are thousands waiting to be rescued to safe sites and lakhs of people who have lost everything in this have to start again from the beginning, people have not lost their hopes yet and we believe the rain will stop in the coming days and all of this will be back to normal in time. The entire people of the state are doing all they can to help each other. Well-wishers from all over the globe are aiding us in our time of need.
And our case in the meantime has also no way but to wait and overcome all these challenges. We have already procured beans that are about two third of the target quantity and is all set to be exported. We had connected with a new cooperative to make up for the remaining quantity of beans. But again, just like our regular areas, Mangulam – the new area of farmers we got aboard our venture, is also affected by this just as bad as the rest. Mangulam which is another elevated hill station in Idukki, just beside the Moonnar wildlife sanctuary, is alienated from the outside world as of now with all its roads cut off by the landslides. But we expect all of this to be sorted out in a couple of weeks’ time and is definite that the people here will overcome all this no matter how bad it gets.
Find more pictures here Posted by BBC WorldKerala floods: Images after worse deluge in a century