Massive preparedness and precise forecasting by IMD helped minimise loss of lives due to Phailin

As cyclone Phailin lashed the coastal areas of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, both the States saw major disruption in power and communication networks, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) officials said here on Sunday.

Massive preparedness by the Central and State agencies and precise forecasting by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) helped to minimise the loss of lives as over six lakh people had been evacuated to safer places. A total of 1,073 relief camps in Odisha and 135 in Andhra Pradesh were opened. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has been in touch with senior officials engaged in relief and rescue operations, has assured all help to the two States. Cabinet Secretary Ajit Kumar Seth chaired a meeting of the ‘Crisis Management Group’ to assess the damage and coordinate rescue and relief efforts.

All efforts are being made to normalise power supply and restore telecom network in affected districts. Also, instructions have been issued to ensure smooth functioning of air, road and railway transport.

Since Sunday morning, 48 teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), along with army personnel deployed in the two States, have been clearing roads of fallen trees and electricity and communication poles. They rescued 83 persons from the Kavitri Mandal, Ganjam and Jagatsinghpur in Odisha and 1,000 people from Srikakulam district in Andhra Pradesh. Relief and rescue operations are in full swing in Srikakulam, Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram, East Godavari and West Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh, NDMA authorities said.

Rains forecast in Bihar, Jharkhand

Meanwhile, the IMD has forecast heavy rains in Bihar and Jharkhand till Monday/Tuesday, though it said the worst was over for Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. Fearing flooding in the two States, the NDRF has deployed its three teams at Supaul, Sitamarhi and Darbhanga in Bihar, while two are being sent to Patna. Similarly, two teams have been positioned at Ranchi and Dhanbad in Jharkhand.

Asked about the confusion created by international weather agencies over the intensity of cyclone Phailin, IMD Director-General L.S. Rathore said: “Being a national meteorological department we cannot predict the way other agencies do as this will lead to a panic-like situation. We stuck to our stand and told the media what we have been saying since the start. Our predictions proved to be more or less accurate.” Notably, many international agencies, including the U.S. Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center and Britain’s Met Office had termed Phailin a “super cyclone” and repeatedly warned it would be immense.

Meanwhile, the Union Power Ministry has said there are disturbances in electricity transmission but the situation is under control. “Required load and generation were managed in a balanced manner so as to secure stable transmission frequency … The National Load Dispatch Centre was operating 24 hours and in touch with regional dispatch centres and the State load dispatch centre. Constant vigil is being maintained and round-the-clock control room at the Ministry is in touch with all concerned. We expect the power infrastructure to be reasonably restored in the next 24 hours or so,” the Ministry said.