West Bengal and Odisha on Friday started emergency preparations, bracing for a possible cyclone, as a low-pressure system formed over the Andaman Sea on Friday is likely to intensify into a cyclone and reach the West Bengal-Bangladesh coast on October 25, as per the IMD.
Cyclone Sitrang, as it will be called if the storm intensifies into a cyclone, is the first post-monsoon tropical storm in the north Indian Ocean in 2022, and is predicted to bring heavy showers over Odisha and West Bengal on Monday and Tuesday, on the days of Kali Puja and Diwali.
The storm, causing wind gusting to 110 km per hour, may spare the states the worst. It will likely cause light to moderate rain in Gangetic West Bengal, with isolated heavy rain in the coastal districts of South 24 Parganas, North 24 Parganas and Purba Medinipur, said Sanjib Bandopadhyay, the deputy director-general of Regional Met Centre in Kolkata.
The National Crisis Management Committee, headed by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, reviewed the preparedness of central and state governments for the possible cyclonic storm on Friday. The director general of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) briefed the NCMC about the current status of the weather system in the Bay of Bengal, a statement said.
The chief secretaries of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal and Andaman and Nicobar Islands apprised the committee of preparatory measures being taken to protect the population in the expected path of the cyclonic storm.
Kolkata Municipal Corporation Makes Emergency Preparations
West Bengal’s Chief Secretary HK Dwivedi chaired a high-level meeting with top state officials in Kolkata. He directed South 24 Parganas, North 24 Parganas, Purba Medinipur, Paschim Medinipur and Hooghly districts to take necessary precautions in the wake of the forecast.
Leaves of all senior officers in these districts as well as those in the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) and Kolkata Police were cancelled, an official said. Control rooms will be opened in these south Bengal districts, and those living in low-lying areas will be moved to safe shelters, he said.
Twenty teams of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and 15 teams of the NDRF will be on standby. Kolkata’s Mayor Firhad Hakim said his team is ready to face any eventuality.
“All community halls have been asked to remain open. We will start using mikes to alert people. All pumping stations will be active to drain out accumulated water. We are also preparing cyclone shelters," he told PTI.
Odisha Braces for the Storm
The storm is likely to bring heavy rainfall on Odisha’s coast on Monday. The state’s Revenue and Disaster Management Minister Pramila Mallick said all districts and coastal region authorities were directed to be prepared to deal with the emerging situation.
Personnel of the fire service department, the ODRAF and NDRF are on standby for any emergency situation, Mallick said. Odisha’s Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) PK Jena appealed to the people not to panic as the cyclone is likely to be 200 km away from the state’s coast at Dhamra Port in Bhadrak district when it will head towards West Bengal-Bangladesh coasts.
“The Odisha government is in touch with the NDRF, Indian Navy and Coast Guard in view of the forecast. Odisha coast may experience maximum 50 to 60 kmph wind speed when the weather system crosses parallel to the state’s coast," he said.
Bengal, Odisha to be Spared the Worst
As per the Met department, the cyclonic storm is likely to intensify as it moves towards Bangladesh, skirting the Odisha coast and sparing West Bengal the worst.
“The system is expected to move northwestwards till the early hours of Monday. Then, just before intensifying into a cyclone, it is expected to take a recurve and move north first and then northeast. Though the system is expected to intensify into a severe cyclonic storm, it is likely to move towards Bangladesh,” said G.K. Das, director, India Meteorological Department, Kolkata, as per Telegragh.
While there may not be any large-scale damage, the states are still bracing for high winds and heavy rainfall. States in the north-east, including Assam, east Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur and Tripura, will also receive rainfall on October 24, 25 and 26 under the impact of the system. Fishermen have been advised not to venture into the sea from October 23 until further notice.
(With PTI inputs)
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