Kerala has recorded a 48% deficiency in this year’s southwest monsoon till July 18, according to data from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) station in Thiruvananthapuram. The IMD has put out red alerts in five of the 14 districts in the state indicating that the monsoon will gather strength over the next few days. Level-red rain warning is a call to the state’s disaster management authority to immediately take preventive steps to evacuate people from vulnerable areas to shelter camps and provide others with emergency kits.
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The red alert has been issued for Idukki district from July 18-20, Malappuram district for July 18, Pathanamthitta and Kottayam districts for July 19 and Ernakulam district for July 20. During these days, these districts are likely to receive ‘extremely heavy rainfall’ upwards of 204.4 mm. Other districts are predicted to get isolated heavy to very heavy rainfall on these days, though a red alert has not been issued for them.
Fishermen living on the coast of Kerala and Lakshwadeep area have been cautioned not to venture out to sea due to strong winds from the northwesterly direction reaching speeds of 40-50 kmph. Sea condition is predicted to be ‘rough to very rough.’
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From June 1 till July 18, Kerala recorded 568.7 mm rainfall against a ‘normal’ of 1085.1 mm rainfall, signalling a departure of 48% and strengthening fears of months of drought facing the state. In particular, Wayanad and Idukki, both hilly districts with large areas of coffee, tea, rubber and cardamom plantations, recorded ‘large deficient’ rainfall departure of 60% and 62% respectively. Such wide departure in seasonal rainfall can spell doom for the plantation farmers in these districts.
Over the last couple of weeks, water levels in the state’s major reservoirs including the Idukki and Edamalayar dams went down significantly leading to alarm bells ringing in the corridors of the state electricity department. Power Minister MM Mani had stressed that there would be a need for restrictions on power supply to maintain rising demand.