In view of the oncoming ‘extremely severe’ cyclone Fani that is likely to hit the Odisha coast by Friday afternoon, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday chaired a high-level meeting to review preparedness for the cyclonic storm.
The meeting was attended by Cabinet Secretary, the Principal Secretary to the PM, the Additional Principal Secretary to the PM, the Home Secretary, and other senior officials from the IMD, NDRF, NDMA and PMO.
After reviewing the emerging situation, PM Modi instructed senior officers of the Union Government to maintain close coordination with officers of the affected states, to ensure preventive measures and also to take effective steps for relief and rescue operations as required.
The Prime Minister was briefed on the likely path of the cyclone, and the ongoing precautionary and preparatory measures being undertaken, A PMO statement said.
These include provision of adequate resources, deployment of teams from NDRF and the Armed Forces, arrangements to provide drinking water and standby systems to restore power and telecom services.
Earlier in the day, the India Meteorological Department had informed that the cyclonic storm was about 450 km from the Odisha coast.
The cyclonic storm is moving northwards with a speed of 5 kms per hour in last six hours and is likely to cross Odisha coast south of Puri between Gopalpur and Chandbali anytime by Friday afternoon with a wind speed of up to 200 km per hour.
People at Puri beach are being warned against venturing into the sea.
A “yellow warning” has been issued for Odisha predicting heavy to very heavy rain in several areas.
IG Coast Guard East Paramesh said that the Coast guard has tied up with NDRF and state administration to provide immediate relief in the aftermath of cyclone Fani.
Coast Guard ships and aircraft have been continuously patrolling the areas and sending out weather warnings to the fishermen since April 25, he said.
The IG further said that the Coast Guard has positioned eight rescue teams – four each at Visakhapatnam and Chennai. Two ships have been anchored each at Visakhapatnam and Chennai for immediate mobilisation post the cyclone. One Chetak helicopter has been kept ready each at Chennai and Visakhapatnam to provide relief.
Meanwhile, the East Coast Railway has cancelled 22 more trains taking the total to 103.
Trains from Puri to Howrah, in the night of May 2, and trains from Bangalore, Chennai and Secundrabad to Howrah in the evening of May 2 have been cancelled.
Similarly, all train services between Puri and Bhubaneswar and incoming trains touching Puri and Bhubaneswar on May 3 have been terminated.
According to the weather department, 19 districts of Odisha, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh are likely to be hit by the cyclone.
Odisha government has declared holiday at schools and colleges in the state from May 2 till further orders.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has directed the evacuation of about eight lakh people in view of the cyclone.
Personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) and fire service have been deployed in vulnerable areas in the districts likely to be affected by the cyclone.
All 28 teams of NDRF, 20 ODRAF units and other fire service units have been dispatched to areas on a priority basis.
The Defence Ministry has informed that it is monitoring the developing situation in the East coast of India for Cyclone Fani and has authorised proactive deployment of resources from the Indian Navy and Coast Guard for succour and assistance to those in need with minimum reaction time.