Odisha gears up for cyclone amid COVID-19 curbs

Districts on alert though system likely to head for Bengal coast

May 16, 2020 07:23 pm | Updated November 28, 2021 12:04 pm IST - BHUBANESWAR

Railway staff repair electrification cable on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar, Odisha on May 16, 2020.

Railway staff repair electrification cable on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar, Odisha on May 16, 2020.

The Odisha government on Saturday said it would not to be complacent in its preparation even if initial analysis of the impending cyclone’s track suggests that the system might spare the State.

Also read: Odisha bracing for possible cyclone, 12 districts on alert

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik held a video-conferencing with senior officials of 12 districts to take stock of the situation. Mr. Patnaik asked district collectors to put extra efforts for cyclone preparedness during COVID-19 pandemic and try to ensure zero casualty.

Earlier in the day, Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy briefed Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba about State’s preparedness.

As per the predicted path of the cyclone, around seven lakh people in 649 villages along the sea coast are likely to be severely affected. The standing crop in lakhs of hectares particularly, ripe summer paddy, pulses and oil seeds, cashew, mango, coconut and vegetables are likely to be damaged in the heavy rainfall and wind, said the government.

“Around 403 cyclone shelters have been identified in the area likely to be affected by the cyclone. Around 105 of such shelters are presently being used as quarantine centres for COVID care. COVID tests of the persons accommodated in these centers are being done expeditiously on priority so that persons with negative report can be sent for home quarantine,” said Mr. Tripathy.

As a contingency arrangement, alternative buildings were identified for use as cyclone shelter, in case of the need for more evacuation, he said.

Also read | Odisha puts District Collectors on alert over possible cyclone

Odisha government urged Centre to control movement of ‘Shramik special trains’ which were to arrive in coastal Odisha.

The depression over southeast Bay of Bengal and neighbourhood moved northwestwards with a speed of 20 kmph and lay centred about 1060 km south of Paradip the bulletin issued by India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

“The cyclonic storm will move in north and north-westerly direction and on May 17 afternoon, it is likely to re-curve towards north and north-east. As per the information made available to us, the cyclone could move towards West Bengal coast,” said State Special Relief Commissioner Pradeep Jena.

Also read: Low pressure over Bay of Bengal intensifies into depression: Met

Mr. Jena said the landfall of the cyclone might take place on May 20 with wind speeds reaching 160-170 km per hour gusting to 190 kmph over north Bay of Bengal.

Though the State government has ruled out any threat of floods due to heavy rain triggered by the cyclonic storm, district collectors have been informed about the impending cyclone.

“Since it is a summer cyclone, the government doesn’t see any flood threat. People living in thatched houses or having asbestos roof may have to be evacuated. The district collectors are preparing their own plans to deal with emergency situation,” said Mr. Jena.

Drinking waters and dry food will be kept ready for the evacuated people, he said. Separate guidelines have been issued for farmers and fishermen. According to SRC, almost all fishermen had come back to coast following massive awareness campaign by fisheries department.

The third battalion of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) based at Mundali, 30 km from Bhubaneswar, also tested the disaster response equipment. Apart from their regular apparatus, the NDRF personnel will be carrying personal protective equipment in view of prevailing COVID-19 pandemic. The State government had earlier cancelled holidays of government officials.

It is suspected that Balasore, Bhadrak, Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur could be hit by the cyclone.

In Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara district, if any person in quarantine is found to test positive for coronavirus and a quarantine centre is required to be shifted keeping the cyclone threat in mind, the person would be sent to home quarantine, government sources said.

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