New Delhi: Cyclone ‘Fani, which intensified into a 'severe cyclonic storm' on Monday evening, is now headed towards the Odisha coast, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has said, adding that it could take the shape of an 'extremely severe cyclone' by Wednesday.
The weather prediction has prompted the government to put the National Disaster Response Force and the Indian Coast Guard on high alert, officials said.
The Odisha government has issued a high alert in the coastal districts in view of the intensifying cyclonic storm which is headed towards the Odisha coast. It is likely to make landfall by Friday afternoon. Disaster management teams have been kept on standby.
“The current trend of the cyclone has offered hints that the storm may pass through the Odisha coastline between Puri and Balasore. We have, therefore, directed all district authorities to remain alert to tackle any eventuality,” said Bishnupada Sethi, the state’s Special Relief Commissioner (SRC).
The impact of the cyclonic storm would be felt in the state by May 2, warned the Regional Meteorological Centre in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday, saying that southern and coastal Odisha and adjacent districts are likely to receive heavy to very rainfall. Coastal and interior parts of the state are likely to be lashed by extremely heavy rains on May 3 and 4 with wind speeds touching 150 to 170 kmph.
In its 9pm bulletin, the Cyclone Warning Division of the IMD said the storm currently lays about 620 km east-northeast of the Trincomalee in Sri Lanka, 770 km east-southeast of Chennai and 900 km south-southeast of Machilipatnam.
“The Cyclonic storm 'Fani' (pronounced as Foni) over Southeast Bay of Bengal and neighbourhood moved north-northwestwards with a speed of about 16 kilometres per hour in last six hours, intensified into a severe cyclonic storm. It is very likely to intensify into a very severe cyclonic storm during next 24 hours and into an extremely severe cyclonic storm during subsequent 24 hours. It is very likely to move northwestwards till May 1 evening and thereafter recurve north-northeastwards towards the Odisha coast," the bulletin said.
The National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC), the country’s top body to deal with emergency situation on Monday took stock of the situation arising out of the cyclone and assured the state governments concerned of all assistance from the central government to face the storm.
The Centre has also ordered release of Rs 1,086 crore to four states as advance financial assistance for undertaking preventive and relief measures to deal with the cyclone, PTI reported.
Following a decision of the NCMC, the Ministry of Home Affairs has ordered for advance release of financial assistance to the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) of the four states, an official statement said. Of the sanctioned amount, Odisha will receive Rs 340.87 crore, Tamil Nadu Rs 309.37 crore, West Bengal Rs 235.50 crore and Andhra Pradesh Rs 200.25 crore.
The move has been made to assist the states to undertake preventive and relief measures in response to the cyclone.
The NDRF and the Indian Coast Guard have been put on high alert and the fishermen have been asked not to venture into the sea as ‘Fani’ is expected to intensify into a ‘very severe storm’ by Tuesday, the Home Ministry said.
The wind speed of a cyclonic storm is 80-90 kilometres per hour with wind gusting up to 100 kmph. In case of an 'extremely severe cyclonic storm', the wind speed goes up to 170-180 kmph and could gain the speed of 195 kmph. Light to moderate rainfall at a few places is very likely over north coastal Andhra Pradesh and south coastal Odisha as well as Kerala on Thursday.
The precipitation is likely to increase intensity with 'heavy to very heavy rainfall' at isolated places over coastal Odisha and adjoining districts of north coastal Andhra Pradesh from Thursday.
Light to moderate rainfall is expected at many places. Downpour at isolated places is also very likely to start over coastal districts of West Bengal from Friday, the IMD said.
The NCMC met here under the chairmanship of Cabinet Secretary PK Sinha and took stock of the situation. Chief secretaries, principal secretaries of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal attended the meeting through video conference. Senior officers from the central ministries and agencies concerned also attended the meeting.
The NDRF and the Indian Coast Guard are coordinating with the state governments.
During the meeting, officers of all the state governments concerned confirmed their full preparedness to deal with any emerging situation arising out of the cyclonic storm. Further, the state government highlighted that there is a seasonal ban on fishing in sea up to June 14 due to breeding season.
The state governments were advised to effectively enforce this ban. According to the IMD, the cyclone's landfall over Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh is ruled out. However, the possibility of landfall in Odisha is under continuous watch.
Regular warnings have been issued since April 25 to fishermen not to venture into the sea and asking those at sea to return to the coast. The IMD has been issuing three hourly bulletins with latest forecast to all the states concerned. The Home Ministry is also in continuous touch with the state governments and the central agencies concerned, the statement said.
The NCMC meeting followed directions from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is closely monitoring the situation. The NCMC will meet again Tuesday to take stock of the situation.
The ministry of home affairs has ordered an advance release of Rs 340.87 crore to Odisha to intensify relief and rescue measures well in time before the storm makes a landfall in the state.
Leaves of all state government officials have been cancelled in view of the upcoming storm. Block and tehsil-level officials have been asked to stay in constant touch with the district collectors from time to time for updates. According to officials familiar with the ongoing relief and rescue preparations, 879 cyclone shelters are currently being stocked up and kept ready in the state.