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Centre Reviews Preparedness for Cyclone Yaas, Special Focus on Securing Covid Health Facilities

NDRF teams from Gujarat arrive in Bhubaneshwar on Saturday ahead of Cyclone Yaas. (Image: Twitter/ NDRF)

NDRF teams from Gujarat arrive in Bhubaneshwar on Saturday ahead of Cyclone Yaas. (Image: Twitter/ NDRF)

The Indian Navy is closely monitoring the movement of the Cyclonic Storm and have carried out preparatory activities to combat its effects.

As Odisha and West Bengal brace for cyclonic storm Yaas that is brewing in the Bay of Bengal and is likely to hit the coasts on May 26, Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba chaired a meeting of the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) on Saturday to review the preparedness of Central and state/UT governments and agencies for the cyclone. Gauba stressed that all the measures should be taken in a timely manner so that the loss of lives and destruction of properties is minimised. He was informed that necessary arrangements are being made to ensure uninterrupted functioning of hospitals and COVID Care Centres, along with ensuring generation and supply of oxygen to Covid facilities across the country.

The Director General of IMD and chief secretaries of the concerned states apprised the committee of the measures being taken. Evacuation of people from the low lying areas is being carried out, the committee was told. Adequate stocks of foodgrains, drinking water and other essential supplies have been arranged and preparations have been made to maintain essential services, including power and telecommunications, during the cyclone, a press release by the Ministry of Information and Broadcast stated. The committee was further told that the NDRF has deployed 65 teams while 20 more teams are on standby. Rescue and relief teams of the Army, Navy and Coast Guard along with ships and aircrafts have also been deployed.

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The Indian Navy is also closely monitoring the movement of the Cyclonic Storm and have carried out preparatory activities to combat its effects. As part of the preparedness, eight flood relief teams and four diving teams are prepositioned at Odisha and West Bengal to augment the existing resources. Four naval ships are on standby with Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) bricks, diving, and medical teams to render assistance in the most affected areas along the Odisha and West Bengal coast. Naval aircraft are kept ready at Naval Air stations, INS Dega at Visakhapatnam and INS Rajali near Chennai to undertake aerial survey of the most affected areas, casualty evacuation, and airdrop of relief material as required.

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Here are the top developments:

➤ West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also reviewed preparedness of the state disaster management team to tackle the impending Cyclonic Storm. She advised all agencies to spring into action and said the fishermen have been asked to return immediately. “All officials have been advised integrated command, advance planning & early evacuation from coastal & riverine areas to rescue shelters including cyclone & flood shelters, and to conduct relief and rehabilitation operations at the earliest," she said.

“Fishermen have been alerted to immediately return. 24×7 control rooms have been set up (Ph No - 1070 & 033-22143526). All agencies have been asked to spring into action. Relief materials have been dispatched & Quick Response Teams are mobilised. I request all to stay alert," she wrote on Twitter.

➤ South Eastern Railway cancels special Express trains on nearly 64 routes as a precautionary measure ahead of Cyclone Yaas.

➤ As the southwest monsoon arrived over Andaman and Nicobar Islands, isolated heavy rains were reported in southern parts of Kerala and moderate rain in other areas. A yellow alert has been issued by IMD in Trivandrum Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha and Idukki districts. Rain is expected to intensify with deep depression being formed in Bay of Bengal.

➤ The Odisha government has issued high alert in all coastal and adjoining districts in the state in view of the cyclonic storm in the Bay of Bengal. Odisha’s Chief Secretary Suresh Chandra Mohapatra, after a meeting with senior officials on Friday, said that the state administration is geared up to meet the eventuality if cyclone ‘Yaas’ has any impact on the state.

Mohapatra held a meeting with all line departments, NDRF, Coast Guard, INS Chilika, DG Police, and DG fire services on Friday, news agency ANI reported. Here are live updates on states preparedness for the emerging crisis:

➤ Eight flood relief teams and four diving teams have been prepositioned in Odisha and West Bengal to augment the existing resources. Four naval ships are on standby with Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) bricks, diving, and medical teams to render assistance, ANI reported on Friday afternoon.

➤ The cyclone is likely to intensify into a very severe cyclonic storm and cross the Odisha and the West Bengal coasts on May 26, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said on Saturday. A low pressure area formed over the east-central Bay of Bengal and the adjoining north Andaman Sea on Saturday.

➤ It would continue to move north-northwestwards, intensify further and reach north Bay of Bengal near West Bengal and the adjoining north Odisha and Bangladesh coasts by the morning of May 26, it said. It is very likely to cross West Bengal and the adjoining north Odisha and Bangladesh coasts around the evening of 26th May, the IMD added.

➤ Special relief Commissioner Pradeep K Jena said two airplanes and ships of the Indian Coast Guard are patrolling in the sea to help fishing boats and guide ships to come to the shore before the cyclone hits the state.

➤ Suresh Mohapatra said the Odisha administration is fully prepared to cope with the cyclone. “As things will be more clear about the path of the cyclone in next two-three days, then we will decide that where we have to be more focused," he said.

➤ Mohapatra said all concerned departments such as the electricity companies, health departments, rural and urban water supply departments Odisha Disaster Response Force, and NDRF teams have been put on alert to be in readiness with the manpower, material.

➤ Apart from putting the state’s districts on high alert in the wake of the IMD’s forecast of a possible cyclone crossing Odisha-West Bengal coast by May 26 morning, the state government urged the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard to be prepared for the emerging situation. Odisha’s Chief Secretary S C Mohapatra, after a meeting with senior officials, said that the state administration is geared up to meet the eventuality if cyclone ‘Yaas’ has any impact on the state.

➤ Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) P K Jena, who held a series of meetings on the matter, spoke to collectors of 14 districts, different line departments, power distribution companies, telecom providers, authorities of NDRF, ODRAF, Odisha police, state Fire Service and apprised them about their role during the crisis.

➤ “The DIG of Indian Coast Guard has informed us that two of their flights and two ships are making rounds of the Bay of Bengal. They will rescue the fishermen if trapped anywhere in the sea," Jena said. So far 39 fishermen are in the deep sea and they are expected to return to the shore by Saturday morning, Rana said.

➤ He said the authorities of Indian Naval Ship Chilika and Indian Navy have been alerted and are in touch with the state government to meet the challenges posed by the possible calamity. Stating that the 5 teams of NDRF have so far returned to Odisha from Gujarat, Jena said as many as 17 NDRF teams, 20 battalions of ODRAF and 100 teams of Fire Service are in readiness for the relief and rescue operation.

➤ The forest department has been put on alert to ensure clearing of roads likely to be blocked by the trees falling due to the possible cyclone. The power distribution companies and telecom providers are told to remain prepared to start restoration work as soon as the calamity is over.

➤ Adequate number of generators have been kept in ready condition to ensure uninterrupted drinking water supply. Jena said that the district collectors have already identified suitable pucca buildings to keep people in safe shelter.

➤ Last week, extremely severe cyclone Tauktae hit the Gujarat coast and left a trail of destruction all over the western coast. As it weakened further, its impact was felt across the north Indian plains and even in the hill states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. The April-May and the October-December periods are also known to witness cyclones.

➤ Last May saw the formation of two cyclones one in the Bay of Bengal (super cyclonic storm Amphan) and the other in the Arabian Sea (severe cyclonic storm Nisarga) that hit the Indian coasts.

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