Collectors in Odisha told to identify vulnerable households, alternative cyclone shelters

Collectors of 10 coastal Odisha districts were on Friday asked to identify vulnerable households and additional cyclone shelters for safer evacuation of people while following COVID-19 protocol.

The instruction was issued for swift evacuation in the event of a cyclone that’s brewing over Bay of Bengal hitting the State’s coast.

According to an India Meteorological Department bulletin, a low pressure area is very likely to form over the east-central Bay of Bengal and the adjoining North Andaman Sea on May 22. It is likely to move northwestwards and intensify into a cyclonic storm by May 24. It would continue to move northwestwards, intensify further and reach the north Bay of Bengal near the Odisha and West Bengal coasts around the morning of May 26.

P. K. Jena, Special Relief Commissioner of Odisha, said the cyclone could hit anywhere between north Odisha coast, West Bengal and Bangladesh. The exact path of the cyclone may become clearer on Saturday.

Also read: Odisha government gears up to face possible cyclonic storm

Chief Secretary Suresh Chandra Mohapatra held a high-level meeting to review the State’s preparedness and issued high alert for coastal districts.

Stating that the government had started extensive preparation, Mr. Jena said, “No person should remain in kutcha houses or asbestos-roof houses before the cyclone hits the coast. Besides, people residing in low-lying areas would have to be shifted. Collectors have been asked to mobilise their field level functionaries to spread awareness about looming cyclone over Bay of Bengal.”

Collectors were also asked to take help of gram panchayat-level representatives for safer evacuation of people, he said.

Mr. Jena said the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) and the National Disaster Response Force were kept in readiness to move to affected districts from rescue and road clearance operations in the aftermath of the cyclone.

Director General of Police, Abhay, too, inspected the ODRAF units at Cuttack and directed them to stay prepared for any eventuality.

“Five units of NDRF have already returned from Gujarat, which was battered by Tauktae. We have elaborate discussion and plan for deployment of NDRF and ODRAF personnel if cyclone hits the State,” said Mr. Jena.

As many as 56 urban local bodies in coastal districts have been alerted and asked to take precautionary measures, including pre-positioning of machineries for tree-cutting, high-capacity pump sets for draining out water, and setting up of round-the-clock control rooms.

The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) said it was closely monitoring the weather development and has initiated preventive measures.

“Though fishing ban is enforced in the eastern coast of India, Coast Guard Dornier and ships at sea are intimating the fishermen operating close to coast and those at sea about likely formation of cyclonic storm over Odisha and West Bengal coast and directing these fishing boats to return back to harbour for safety,” said an ICG spokesperson.

Additionally, radar stations of the ICG in West Bengal and Odisha have also started transmitting weather warnings over VHF at regular intervals both in English and in vernacular languages to alert merchant vessels and fishing boats operating at sea, he said.

Government sources said 39 fishermen were reported to be deep inside the sea.

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