AHMEDABAD, June 11 (AGENCIES): Parts of Gujarat are bracing for impact from strengthening Cyclone Vayu, which is expected to slam into the state early Thursday, even as plans are afoot to shift people in the coastal belt to safer places.
The Gujarat administration is on high alert to deal with the cyclone, which is likely to hit the state coast near Veraval, officials said.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Tuesday said people living in the coastal belt would be shifted to safer places.
As per the latest weather report, the cyclonic storm Vayu is located around 630 km south of Veraval coast and is “very likely to intensify further into a severe cyclonic storm” in next 12 hours and hit the state coast on June 13.
Officials said the cyclone is likely to affect Kutch, Jamnagar, Junagadh, Devbhoomi-Dwarka, Porbandar, Rajkot, Amreli, Bhavnagar and Gir-Somnath districts.
Rupani told reporters in Gandhinagar that the entire coastline, starting from Kutch to south Gujarat, has been put on “high alert”.
The officials concerned are in touch with the Odisha government to learn and implement the disaster management techniques adopted by them when cyclone Fani hit the eastern coastal state recently, he said.
“We have cancelled leaves of employees concerned and asked them to join duty. After the Cabinet meet tomorrow, all the ministers will go to various districts to oversee relief and rescue operations,” he said.
“June 13 and 14 are crucial for us. We have roped in the Army, NDRF, Coast Guard and other agencies for rescue and relief work. We will start shifting people living in coastal areas to safer locations,” he said.
After a review meet with district collectors and other officials, Additional Chief Secretary (Revenue) Pankaj Kumar said schools, colleges and Anganwadis in coastal districts would remain shut on June 12 and 13.
“In all, 36 NDRF teams will be deployed for rescue operations. We have also roped in Army, Navy, Coast Guard and BSF units. If needed, we will also take help of Air Force. We have ordered schools, colleges and Anganwadis in the districts which are likely to be hit by the cyclone to remain shut on June 12 and 13,” Kumar said.
While the cyclone’s impact will most likely be in Kutch and Saurashtra regions, two NDRF teams have also been deployed in south Gujarat to deal with any eventuality, Kumar informed.
Apart from people, authorities also aim to shift livestock to safer places, he said, adding that separate teams have been formed to expedite repairing work of roads, removing debris and restoring electricity.
Gujarat ports and transport department principal secretary Sunaina Tomar said a disaster management plan has been put in place at all ports of the state.
“We have installed power generators at all the ports. Cargo and Ro Ro ferry operations have been halted. Leaves of port and transport employees have been cancelled,” said Tomar.
State meteorological centre director Dr Jayanta Sarkar said the cyclonic storm is very likely to move northwards and cross the Gujarat coast between Porbandar and Mahuva, that is near Veraval, as a severe cyclonic storm with wind speed of around 120 kmph.
“This may go up to 135 kmph during early morning of June 13,” he said, adding that fishermen who ventured into the sea have been called back.
A distant warning number 2 (DW-2) signal has been hoisted at the major ports of Gujarat to alert locals as well as fishermen, Sarkar said.
The cyclone would leave its impact on the coastal districts, including Kutch, Bhavnagar, Gir-Somnath, Porbandar, Amreli and Junagadh, he said.
“It would also bring heavy to extremely heavy rainfall in the region. Rain would also occur in some pockets of south Gujarat. The cyclone’s effect will prevail over Gujarat on June 12, 13 and 14,” he added.
Meanwhile, a Coast Guard official said 10 Chinese vessels have sought shelter at Ratnagiri port in neighbouring Maharashtra to avoid being hit by the cyclone.
The Chinese vessels have been allowed to stay at Ratnagiri port under security cordon on humanitarian grounds, he said.