Odisha govt steps up preparations to face cyclone

Bhubaneswar, Oct 10: The Odisha government on Thursday stepped up preparation to face the cyclone and any possible floods thereafter even as the weather office said the severe cyclonic storm would cross north Andhra Pradesh coast around Vishakhapatanam by forenoon of Sunday.

"We do not want to take any chance even as the cyclone is likely to make landfall near Vishakhapatanam in Andhra Pradesh. As cyclone would bring lot of rain, we need to prepare for both the cyclone as well as floods," said Revenue and Disaster Management Minister Bijayshree Routray after Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik reviewed the situation.

Patnaik urged Defence Minister Arun Jaitly to issue standing instructions to the forces, particularly the Air Force, to remain in readiness and support the state at the time of need. He lauded the role of defence personnel in saving human lives and distribution of relief material among the affected people during the cyclone Phailin.

Chief Secretary G C Pati also spoke to Cabinet Secretary Ajit Kumar Seth and informed him about state government's preparedness. "We have sought four more teams of NDRF. The Union Government will send the teams tomorrow," Pati said, adding presently NDRF has 12 teams (each team comprising 45 personnel).

Besides NDRF, the state government has already started deployment of personnel of ODRAF (Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force) and the fire service. All the three wings will work in tandem with the civil administration for the relief and rescue operations in both the cyclone and flood-hit areas, Pati said.
Meanwhile, India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecast that southern Odisha districts would receive heavy to very heavy rainfall from October 11 evening under the infleunce of the very severe cyclonic storm likely to make land fall near Visakhapatanam in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh on October 12.

In its wind warning, IMD said that wind speeds reaching 50-60 kmph to 70 kmph would commence along and off north Andhra Pradesh and south Odisha coasts from the morning of October 11 onwards.

The wind speeds would increase to 130-140 kmph and 155 kmph from October 12 morning along and off north Andhra coast and 80-90 kmph along and off south Odisha coast. (PTI

Storm surge of about 1-2 metres above tides are expected to inundate low-lying areas of east Godavari, Visakhapatnam, Vijayanagaram and Srikakulam districts of north coastal Andhra Pradesh at the time of landfall.

Under the influence of the system, there could be extensive damage to 'kutcha' houses, partial disruption of power and communication lines, minor disruption of rail and road traffic, potential threat from flying debris and flooding of escape routes, IMD said.

Suggesting suspension of fishing operations in area of influence of cyclone, IMD said judicious regulation of aviation, navigation, rail and road traffic should be adopted by the state governments of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.

People in affected areas should remain at safe places around landfall period.

Meanwhile, the Odisha Chief Minister reviewed the contigency plan of important departments and directed a mock drill in all the cyclone and flood shelters to ensure that the people evacuated do not suffer.

Collectors of coastal districts have been asked to undertake evacuation of people if required, Chief secretary Pati said.

Keeping in view the situation, the authorities of the Utkal University and Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) have postponed the semester examinations due to be held on Oct 13 and 14 by two days while the School and Mass Education Department has asked all schools to complete their activities by noon of October 11.

The department has also said that the district collectors could use schools to house the people.