Army, Navy, Coast Guard alerted; 20 more NDRF teams sought

The Andhra Pradesh administration is on high alert as `Lehar’ entered the Bay of Bengal started its movement towards the State’s coastline as a very severe cyclonic storm.

The India Meteorological Department said Lehar, after crossing Port Blair, lay centred at 1,200 km off Machilipatnam and 1,140 km off Kakinada in the south Bay of Bengal. It is set to gradually strengthen further to become a very severe cyclonic storm and maintain the same intensity over the next three days before making landfall near Kakinada on November 28 afternoon.

The Met department issued a red alert to the Andaman Nicobar islands warning very heavy rainfall over the next 24 hours. Fishing activity has been stopped as the condition of sea turned very rough and the condition is expected to turn “phenomenal’’ at the time of the landfall.

Under its influence, the north coastal districts are expected to receive moderate to heavy rainfall from November 27. Lehar is expected to cause extensive damage to kutcha houses, disrupt power and communication and rail and road traffic in a region that is yet to recover from the damage caused by ‘Phailin’ and `Helen’ cyclones earlier.

Chief Secretary P.K. Mohanty reviewed the preparedness of the administration in a video conference with Collectors of coastal districts on Monday. The Government had alerted the Army, the Navy, the Coast Guard and the marine police and requested the Centre to depute 20 teams of the National Disaster Response Force in addition to the existing 12 as also four helicopters that could be stationed in Visakhapatnam.

The Collectors had been asked to keep the Ham radio volunteers ready besides giving wide publicity to dos and don’ts to residents of villages along the coastline. The Roads and Buildings Department had been asked to send equipment to clear roadblocks at the earliest.

The Collectors had been asked to commence evacuation of people from vulnerable low-lying areas involving sarpanches. The district administration should identify Government buildings that could be used as cyclone shelters in addition to the existing facilities and provide necessary amenities to house the people in case of emergency, the Disaster Management Commissioner C. Parthasarathy said.