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With Cyclone Vayu Approaching, Gujarat Coast Put on High Alert; Govt to Evacuate People to Safer Areas

With Cyclone Vayu Approaching, Gujarat Coast Put on High Alert; Govt to Evacuate People to Safer Areas

The Indian Coast Guard, the Navy, Army and Air Force units have been put on standby, with aircraft and helicopters carrying out aerial surveillance.

New Delhi/Ahmedabad: Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday reviewed preparations for Cyclone Vayu which is expected to make a landfall in Gujarat on Thursday morning, and directed officials to ensure all possible steps for the safety of people.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has pre-positioned 25 teams, comprising about 45 personnel each, and the rescuers are equipped with boats, tree-cutters and telecom equipment.

The NDRF is also moving another 10 teams as requested by the Gujarat government. It has also advised fishermen against venturing into the sea in the next few days, while ports have been directed to flag a danger signal.

After the review, Shah directed senior officials to take every possible measure to ensure that people are safely evacuated. The Gujarat administration is on high alert to deal with the cyclone, which is likely to hit the state coast near Veraval, officials said.

Shah also told officials to ensure maintenance of all essential services such as power, telecommunications, health, drinking water and their immediate restoration in the event of damages caused to them, a Home Ministry official said. The ministry is in continuous touch with the state governments and Union territories of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Daman and Diu, which may be affected due to the cyclone.

Cabinet Secretary PK Sinha has also convened a meeting of National Crisis Management Committee later in the day to review the preparedness of states and central agencies, the official said.

Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said people living in the coastal belt would be shifted to safer places. The entire coastline, starting from Kutch to south Gujarat, has been put on "high alert", he added.

The Indian Coast Guard, the Navy, Army and Air Force units have been put on standby and surveillance aircraft and helicopters are carrying out aerial surveillance.

Wind speed of 110-120 kmph expected

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the cyclone is expected to touch Gujarat coast between Porbandar and Mahuva around Veraval and Diu region as a severe cyclonic storm with a wind speed of 110-120 kmph gusting to 135 kmph early on June 13, an official said. It is further likely to intensify into a severe cyclonic storm in the next 12 hours, the Cyclone Warning Division of the IMD said in a bulletin.

As per the latest weather report, the storm is located around 630 km south of Veraval coast. "It is very likely to move nearly northward and cross Gujarat coast between Porbandar and Mahuva around Veraval and Diu region as a Severe Cyclonic Storm with wind speed 110-120 km per hour gusting to 135 km per hour during early morning of June 13," the bulletin said.

It is likely to cause heavy rainfall in the coastal districts of Gujarat with storm surge at a height of about 1.0- 1.5 m above the astronomical tides likely to inundate the low-lying coastal areas of Kutch, Devbhoomi Dwarka, Porbandar, Junagarh, Diu, Gir Somnath, Amreli and Bhavnagar districts at the time of landfall.

The cyclone is likely to affect Kutch, Jamnagar, Junagadh, Devbhoomi-Dwarka, Porbandar, Rajkot, Amreli, Bhavnagar and Gir-Somnath districts.

The officials concerned are in touch with the Odisha government to learn and implement the disaster management techniques adopted by them when cyclone Fani hit the eastern coastal state recently, said Rupani.

"We have cancelled leaves of employees concerned and asked them to join duty. After the Cabinet meet tomorrow, all the ministers will go to various districts to oversee relief and rescue operations," he said. "June 13 and 14 are crucial for us. We have roped in the Army, NDRF, Coast Guard and other agencies for rescue and relief work. We will start shifting people living in coastal areas to safer locations," he said.

Meanwhile, Gujarat Chief Secretary JN Singh also held a review meeting with all the departments concerned and officers of the three wings of the armed forces and took stock of the situation.

Additional Chief Secretary (Revenue) Pankaj Kumar said the administration was constantly monitoring the cyclone situation off the state’s coast.

“Twenty-five National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams have left their headquarters for coastal districts in the state and they will be deployed till Wednesday noon. We have also demanded 10 NDRF teams from the Centre as back-up force for rescue and rehabilitation purposes after the cyclone hits Gujarat’s coast. Army teams will be deployed in each of the districts where the maximum impact of cyclone would be felt,’’ Kumar said.

The coastal districts where the cyclone’s impact will be felt are Bhavnagar, Amreli, Gir-Somnath, Junagadh, Porbandar, Jamnagar, Devbhoomi-Dwarka, Rajkot, Morbi and Kutch. Schools and colleges of these districts have decided to remain shut between June 12 and 14.

“The district collectors concerned have prepared evacuation plans in their respective areas in the state. Workers on jetties have been asked to shift to safer places as part of precautionary measures. Truck-mounted de-watering machines are ready to be deployed in coastal areas for rescue and rehabilitation purpose. The power distribution company (state-owned Paschim Gujarat Vij Company Ltd) is ready to restore electricity supply in affected coastal areas,” Kumar added.

Officials said that 11 SDRF teams will be deployed, besides NDRF teams.

“A total of 20 platoons of the State Reserved Police (SRP) is ready to be deployed wherever needed, besides the local police. Senior police officers have been told to remain in areas where cyclone alerts have been issued,” said Shivanand Jha, Director General of Police, Gujarat.

Meanwhile, a Coast Guard official said 10 Chinese vessels have sought shelter at Ratnagiri port in neighbouring Maharashtra to avoid being hit by the cyclone. The vessels have been allowed to stay at Ratnagiri port under security cordon on humanitarian grounds, he said.

(With inputs from PTI)