Employees of various Departments asked to set up control rooms in their respective areas

As a major cyclone was likely to hit Odisha-Andhra Pradesh coast on Saturday, the State government cancelled the Puja holidays of the government employees on Wednesday.

“The State Government has cancelled the Puja holidays of the employees in as many as 14 coastal districts in view of the possible cyclone,” Revenue and Disaster Management Minister Surya Narayan Patro said.

The employees of various Departments of the State government have been asked to set up control rooms in their respective areas to cope with any eventuality, Mr. Patro informed. The Government had also ordered for deployment of Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) and National Disaster Rapid Action Force (NDRAF) in the coastal districts on Thursday.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik also took stock of the situation at a meeting at the State Secretariat and asked the Collectors of the coastal districts to keep the administration on high alert.

Interacting with the Collectors through video conferencing, Mr. Patnaik asked them to maintain food grain stock and keep the cyclone shelters in readiness and the authorities ready to carry out relief and rescue operation in case a cyclone hit the State.

The coastal districts where alert had been issued were Balasore, Bhadrak, Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Dhenkanal, Jajpur, Cuttack, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Puri, Khurda, Nayagarh, Ganjam and Gajapati.

According to a bulletin issued by the Meteorological Department, the storm brewing over the Andaman Sea was likely to gather speed and destructive power when it would cross the Odisha-Andhra coast on Saturday. The wind speed of the system during the landfall was likely to be around 175 to 185 km. per hour. Director of Bhubaneswar Meteorological Centre S. C. Sahu said that the deep depression that lay centred about 1100 km. east-southeast of Paradip on Wednesday afternoon was likely to intensify into cyclone and subsequently into a very cyclonic storm with a maximum wind speed of 175-185 km. per hour. It was likely to hit between Kalingapatnam in Andhra Pradesh and Paradip in Odisha on Saturday, he said.

State Special Relief Commissioner of P. K. Mohapatra told journalists that the Collectors of the coastal districts have been asked to keep the satellite phones ready in case there was failure in the communication links. Meanwhile, it had started raining in many coastal districts by Wednesday evening, bringing back the sad memories of the October 1999 super cyclone that had claimed over 8,000 lives.