Chief Minister holds high-level meet for preparing strategy to tackle the disaster

The State government on Tuesday asked farmers to keep their harvest in safer places in view of ‘Lehar’, very severe cyclonic storm, advancing towards Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.

Alert has been sounded in 10 southern districts including Koraput, Nabrangpur, Rayagada, Malkanagiri, Gajapati, Ganjam, Bolangir and Bargarh where impact of the very severe cyclonic storm could be felt.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik also presided over a high-level meeting of secretaries of various departments for preparing strategy to tackle the disaster. The re-grouping of disaster mangers assumed significance as the restoration and rehabilitation in southern district of Ganjam was completed just couple of days.

Bhubaneswar Meteorological Centre said the very severe cyclonic storm ‘Lehar’ over southeast Bay of Bengal moved westwards with a speed of 16 kmph during past six hours and lay centred at about 820 km south-southeast of Gopalpur.

The system would intensify further and move west-northwestwards and cross Andhra Pradesh coast between Machilipatnam and Kalingapatnam near Kakinada around Thursday noon. Under its impact, the wind speed reaching 200 km per hour could blow inside the Andhra Pradesh.

Distant warning signal number two has been hoisted at Paradip and Gopalpur ports in Odisha.

Heavy rain could lash southern Odisha district during the landfall of Lehar.

According to Mr. Patnaik-chaired meeting, since November is harvesting month, the impact on harvests would be ruinous.

Farmers have been cautioned to take necessary steps for standing crops in the field in the districts of south and western Odisha. After cautions were issued, farmers were seen undertaking crop-cutting on a war-footing.

Similarly, fishermen were advised not to venture into sea and those who were already in the sea were being messaged to return to coast.

The State government has also directed re-deployment of Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force in 10 southern and western districts.

Phailin-hit worried

Phailin-ravaged families in Ganjam district are panicky over the approaching Lehar cyclone although as per the meteorology department and administration it would not have much impact here.

Most panicked are the inhabitants of coastal villages like Podampeta where people are still living under makeshift roofs of polythene sheets. According to K. Sitamma of Podampeta, they are worried that another cyclone would wash away all the efforts of restoration her family has taken up during past few weeks.

Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC), southern division, Bikash Mohapatra said Collectors of south Odisha districts including Ganjam were alerted.

According to Mr Mohapatra, their main aim was now to save paddy crop in Ganjam district which had survived the cyclone and floods.

‘We have instructed officials to make all possible arrangements so that the harvested crop could be stored in roofed dry shelters.