Kochi, Aug 15: Reeling under the unprecedented havoc caused by heavy rains, the Kerala government today decided do away with the 'Onam' celebrations this year and instead utilise the amount for relief operations.
Thirty nine people have so far lost their lives in landslides and floods caused due to the heavy rains, which has destroyed 20,000 houses and damaged 10,000 km of roads in the state since 8 August.
The government has resolved not to organise programmes held every year as part of the onam festivities, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, told reporters here.
Meanwhile, adding to Kerala's woes, the Tamil Nadu government, which owns and operates the dam located upstream of Idukki Dam, has informed that it may release water into the Periyar river on the Kerala side from Mullaperiyar reservoir due to high inflows, an official release said.
The water level in the Mullaperiyar Dam stood at 137.4 feet. In view of the advice by Tamil Nadu authorities, the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) has also decided to release more water from Cheruthoni dam, which is part of the Idukki reservoir, it said.
People living close to Periyar river banks in Ernakulam, Idukki, and Thrissur have been asked to comply with the directions issued by the Collectors of these districts and move to relief camps, the release said.
Idukki District Collector Jeevan Babu said people living on the banks of the Periyar river have to be extremely alert and should shift to safer places before 9 PM.
The district administration and district disaster management authority have taken all precautions, he said.
The Idukki dam itself was opened after a gap of 26 years last week following copious inflows triggered by the heavy rains lashing the state for the past several days. Almost all 40-odd rivers in the state are in spate.
The week-long festivities were to take place in August -- with the Thiru Onam falling on August 25.