All bases covered to tackle Cyclone Nisarga, says BMC

All-out effort: Slum dwellers in Santacruz cover their rooftops with flex banners after the IMD issued a red alert in Mumbai and Thane in view of Cyclone Nisarga, on Tuesday.

All-out effort: Slum dwellers in Santacruz cover their rooftops with flex banners after the IMD issued a red alert in Mumbai and Thane in view of Cyclone Nisarga, on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: Aadesh Choudhari

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), stretched to the limit battling the spread of COVID-19 in the city, is now gearing up to face Cyclone Nisarga.

BMC Commissioner I.S. Chahal held a meeting with assistant and deputy commissioners on Tuesday as the cyclone will be making a landfall on Wednesday.

We are prepared: CM

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday, in a televised address, said, “We can only pray that its intensity decreases by the time it reaches us. But we are prepared. We have contacted all fisherfolk in the State and are bringing them back home.” There were some from Palghar with whom we were unable to get in touch with earlier in the day, but we have now reached them as well. They won’t be allowed to venture out into the sea for the next two days.”

He also warned of possible power cuts. He said, “Keep your belongings secured. Store drinking water. Charge all appliances that run on battery. Pay attention to announcements on Doordarshan and Akashwani.” The Chief Minister appealed to people not to spread or fall prey to rumours. He said, “Local administrations are in action everywhere. Cooperate with them. You will be informed in time in case you need to be relocated.”

Mr. Thackeray also advised people in rural areas to chalk out spaces in their houses where they would be safest in case of strong winds, and advised them against entering temporary structures like sheds. “The government will keep updating you as and when we get information on the cyclone’s intensity and direction. Let us face this challenge with the same fortitude and presence of mind that we showed with COVID-19,” he said.

‘Fortify CCCs’

Mr. Chahal has ordered officers to ensure that all COVID-19 Care Centres (CCCs) are structurally stable. The BMC had created CCCs overnight to shift high-risk contacts or asymptomatic patients. However, after the BMC had to shift people out of the COVID-19 hospital at Bandra Kurla Complex, questions were raised about the structural stability of the jumbo facilities as well as other CCCs.

Ashok Khairnar, assistant municipal commissioner of H East ward, said, “Even when we rapidly took over buildings for CCCs, it was not done blindly. In fact, we kept the monsoon in mind and selected buildings that are in good condition. Since a few of them are lying unused, I will be using them to shift people from low-lying areas.” Mr. Khairnar has created four disaster response teams in his ward and provided them with 10 personal protective equipment (PPE) kits each.

The BMC has also instructed construction contractors to secure all under-construction sites to avoid incidents of scaffolding or cranes collapsing. “We have been asked to ensure the stability of hoardings,” said Prashant Sapkale, assistant municipal commissioner of K East ward.

The BMC has also appealed to people to carry tools such as hammers when they venture out in their cars on Wednesday to avoid getting stuck inside on flooded roads. Last year, two people died after they got locked in.

The BMC has kept officers on high alert through Tuesday night keeping in mind the collapse of trees, dilapidated structures and walls, flooding, short circuit or fire incidents. Guardian Minister for Mumbai, Aaditya Thackeray, who was present at the meeting, has asked officers to focus on parts of city that are prone to landslides, flooding and dilapidated buildings collapsing. He also sought provision of packaged food and water for migrants or homeless people. Staffers shifting COVID-19 patients will be provided with PPEs.

“We have already started shifting people from landslide-prone or flood-prone areas,” said Mr. Chahal. When told that most municipal hospital generators can run only for four to five hours, Mr. Chahal simply said, “We are prepared.”

The Mumbai Fire Brigade has stationed 93 lifeguards and 150 flood rescue members at fire stations for cyclone preparedness.

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Printable version | Aug 8, 2020 6:10:36 AM |

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