With Cyclone Phyan lashing Maharashtra and parts of Gujarat on Wednesday, standing crops in many areas face the threat of destruction.

IMD’s Deputy Director-General of Agricultural Meteorology R.P. Samui said: “Standing crops will take time to mature, as they need dry and sunny weather for maturity. High wind and heavy rain may also cause crops to fall. Maturing crops like soyabean and rice, and matured ones like groundnut, cotton and vegetables, would be affected. The harvested crop may rot because of the moisture in the air.”

He added that the rain would, however, be a blessing for the rabi crop. “It would benefit safflower, sunflower, wheat, oilseeds and pulses that are yet to be sown or have just been sown. One would save on irrigation because of the unseasonal rain.”

Fishermen missing

In South Gujarat and Saurashtra regions, the authorities and fishermen’s associations were making efforts to contact fishermen who had sailed out from Navsari, Bulsar and some other smaller fishing ports in south Gujarat four to seven days earlier. A spokesman said that about 20 boats with about 150 to 200 fishermen from Navsari and other south Gujarat ports were still “missing” as no contact could be established with them till Wednesday evening.

In the neighbouring union territory of Daman, about 20 fishing trawlers with about 200 fishermen returned to the port by evening, but about 300 others in about 35 boats were still reported “missing.” According to the Daman fishermen’s association president, Gopal Tandel, about 80 fishing boats from the Union territory port had gone out in the high seas, of which about 30 boats have returned.

The Gujarat administration had issued a high alert and asked the Collectors of the coastal districts to stay in their offices and to keep in constant touch with the capital.

Modi reviews situation

Chief Minister Narendra Modi convened a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday morning to review the situation and decided to postpone the ambitious “Gunotsava-2009” programme scheduled to begin from Thursday. The programme was aimed at quality check of all the 32,600-odd State government-run primary schools by some 3,000 government officials.

Soon after the meeting, the Ministers in charge of the south and central Gujarat districts were asked to rush to their district headquarters to be available on hand in case of any exigency. He also held a meeting with the officials of the State disaster management authority to keep the rescue and relief machinery in place in case of an emergency.

However, after the high alert was withdrawn, Mr. Modi held another round of meeting with his Cabinet colleagues in the evening to review the situation, particularly the loss and damage to the standing crops.

Many parts of the State including, Navsari, Bulsar, Dangs, Vadodara, Bhavnagar and other districts received moderate rainfall during the last 24 hours.