As super cyclone Amphan is inching closer towards West Bengal and Odisha, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday spoke to the respective Chief Ministers of the states – Mamata Banerjee and Naveen Patnaik, and assured them of all possible help from the Centre.
Cyclone Amphan equivalent of a category 5 hurricane, will make landfall on Digha in West Bengal by the evening of May 20 evening as extremely severe cyclonic storm with wind speeds up to 195 kmph, Centre had said on Monday.
Shah spoke to Bengal CM Banerjee on phone and discussed the arrangements and preparations of the state in place.
“The central government is with you,” the Home Minister reportedly assured Mamata Banerjee, even as the BJP-led Centre and the TMC headed state government had been at loggerheads ever since the Loksabha Election 2019.
During the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak as well, CM Banerjee had accused the Centre of playing politics over Covid-19 pandemic and discriminating between states during the video conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
To check on the preparedness of the deployed agencies, Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba is meeting with the National Crisis Monitoring Committee to discuss how the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the defence forces, power and telecommunications departments.
The cyclonic storm is very likely to weaken into an extremely severe cyclonic storm in the next six hours before it hits West Bengal tomorrow, the Met department said this morning. It is likely to reach Bengal’s Digha and an island in Bangladesh close to the Sunderbans by tomorrow afternoon or evening.
“Amphan is now a ‘super cyclone’ and it is a serious issue, the only other cyclone of this magnitude was in Odisha in 1999 and it was very deadly,” said National Disaster Response Force DG SN Pradhan.
“When ‘Amphan’ makes landfall on May 20 it will be an extremely severe cyclonic storm,” aid Pradhan.
“Cyclone ‘Amphan’ will cause heavy to extremely heavy rainfall in coastal districts of West Bengal. West Bengal districts of East Medinipur, South and North 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly, Kolkata are likely to be worst affected by cyclone,” said government.
The storm is expected to make landfall along The two states and Bangladesh are on high alert, with a “massive evacuation” underway, according to the Collector and District Magistrate of Odisha’s Bhadrak.
The Odisha government is taking all precautionary measures to deal with cyclone Amphan and the situation is under control so far, said Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) Pradeep Jena on Tuesday.
He said the district administrations have started the evacuation process from Monday in the coastal districts and the entire evacuation process will be completed by this evening.
“All government departments are working in close coordination to complete the entire evacuation process by today. Out of 12 districts, north Odisha districts are more prone to the cyclone. Special focus has been given to these districts,” said Jena.
At least 25 NDRF teams have been deployed on the ground while 12 others are ready in reserve. An additional 24 teams are also on standby in different parts of the country. The Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) and Fire Services have also been deployed to contain the situation.
The Border Security Force (BSF) has moved its three floating border posts or ships and 45 other patrol boats deployed to guard the India-Bangladesh riverine front in the Sunderbans and Icchamati river in West Bengal tosafe anchorage in view of the cyclonic storm ‘Amphan’, officials said.
These vessels are used by the south Bengal frontier of the border force to guard about 350 kms of the riverine border in this area.
The three floating border posts or ships, 45 other patrol and mechanised boats have been moved for safe anchorage in view of cyclone ‘Amphan’.
BSF Deputy Inspector General (south Bengal frontier) S S Guleria told PTI that the troops who man these vessels will move to land border posts till the activity of the cyclone.
The BSF protects over 930 kms of the International Border under this frontier that includes 110 kms of the Sunderbans, Estuary Point, Icchamati river and Panitar, where the land and riverine borders of the two countries meet.
A senior BSF officer said the force is coordinating with the National Disaster Response Force and local authorities to evacuate locals to safer places and initiate search and rescue operations once the cyclone makes a landfall on May 20, expected to be between Digha in West Bengal and Hatiya in Bangladesh.
The cyclone is predicted to have the potential to cause extensive damage like Cyclone Fani, which hit Odisha and West Bengal coast at this time last year. Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting on Monday to review the response preparedness and evacuation plan presented by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).