Heavy rains since Monday morning have flooded Kerala's central and southern districts, inundating major roads, and disrupting train services and power supply. Rains have also disrupted voting in five politically sensitive assembly constituencies where bypolls are being held.
Political parties have urged Election Commission to postpone bypolls owing to abysmally low turnout.
Commercial hub Ernakulam, where bypolls are being held is the most affected. Ten polling booths were shifted due to inundation. Train services have been disrupted and schools have shut down, according to local news reports.
Kerala's chief electoral officer, Teeka Ram Meena told local television channels that the polling time will be extended.
The government has called an urgent meeting in the afternoon. "Heavy rains are expected for the next three days in Ernakulam. We will issue rains forecast in every three hours," said Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) state chief K Santhosh.
Except for Kannur and Kasargode, all districts are currently under the 'orange alert' of the IMD, which means they are expected to receive heavy to very heavy rains. Two relief centers and a control unit have been opened in Ernakulam district. A unit of national disaster force have been moved to the Pathanamthitta district for rescue and relief operations.
The state, which was battered by the southwest monsoon in 2018 and 2019 is witnessing the arrival of the northeast monsoon earlier than usual, accompanied by moderate to heavy rainfall and thunderstorms and winds reaching 40kmphs, according to the IMD.
Two cyclonic movements, in the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal, could also intensify into a depression and result in heavy rainfall over the next 10 days.
Red alert warning vigorous rains (more than 20 cm in 24 hours) has been issued by IMD in seven out of the 14 districts in Kerala— Thiruvananthapuram, Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Idukki, Kottayam, Thrissur, Pathanamthitta. Orange and yellow alerts, in anticipation of moderate to very heavy rains, have been issued in other districts