The severe cyclonic storm Tauktae moved nearly northwards over the east-central Arabian Sea with a speed of about 13 kmph in six hours and at 10:30 pm lay centred at about 190 km southwest of Panjim-Goa, 550 km south of Mumbai, 780 km south-southeast of Veraval (Gujarat) and 910 km south-southeast of Karachi (Pakistan).
“It is very likely to intensify into a Very Severe Cyclonic Storm during next 12 hours and intensify further. It is very likely to move north-northwestwards and reach Gujarat coast in the morning of May 18 and cross Gujarat coast between Porbandar and Naliya around May 18 afternoon/evening," said the weather forecast department.
The Indian Air Force has kept 16 transport aircraft and 18 helicopters in readiness in peninsular India as part of preparations to deal with the situation that could arise out of cyclone Tauktae. The IAF has also decided to focus on COVID relief operations in the coastal areas in the next few days as bad weather is likely to affect air operations later, it said. “The IAF has kept 16 transport aircraft and 18 helicopters on op readiness in peninsular India in preparation for the Cyclone Tauktae which is expected to cause very heavy to extremely heavy rainfall along the western coast of India in the next few days," the IAF said in a statement.
Warnings have been issued to fishermen not to venture into the sea till May 18.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the preparedness of states, central ministries and agencies concerned to deal with the situation arising out of cyclone Tauktae and asked them to take every possible measure to ensure that people are safely evacuated.
He also called for ensuring maintenance of all essential services such as power, telecommunications, health and drinking and their immediate restoration in the event of damages caused to them, a statement said. At the high-level meeting which was attended by Home Minister Amit Shah and top officials concerned, Modi directed them to ensure special preparedness on COVID management in hospitals, vaccine cold chain and other medical facilities on power back up and storage of essential medicines and to plan for unhindered movement of oxygen tankers, the PMO said.
DoT takes stock
The Department of Telecom also held a review meeting with telecom infrastructure providers to take stock of readiness to mitigate the impact of the cyclone. “In order to ensure uninterrupted telecom connectivity in these states Maharashtra, Mumbai and Gujarat, the Department of Telecommunications held a meeting with all the telecom infrastructure providers and their representative body Tower & Infrastructure Providers Association (TAIPA)," the industry body said in a statement. The meeting was chaired by telecom secretary Anshu Prakash and was also attended by the telecom operators along with various senior DoT officials including DG Telecom TK Paul and other officials from state offices, the statement said.
WR cancels trains
The Western Railway (WR) on Saturday cancelled 56 trains till May 21 as a precaution. Some trains were ‘short terminated, which means their journey will end before the final destination.
All cancelled trains originate or terminate in cities in the Saurashtra region. Three trains were cancelled on May 15, 11 on May 16, 22 on May 17, 13 on May 18, five on May 19, and one each on May 20 and 21, the WR said in a release.
Most of these trains terminate in cities like Bhuj, Porbandar, Gandhidham, Bhavnagar, Rajkot, Surendranagar, Veraval and Okha. In its advisory, the Ministry of Home Affairs has called for judicious use of rail and road services in view of the cyclone.
(with inputs from PTI)