Cyclone 'Amphan': 12 coastal districts of Odisha put on alert

Bhubaneswar, May 17 (PTI) The Odisha government has asked the administration of its 12 coastal districts to remain in a state of preparedness to deal with any eventuality in the wake of cyclone 'Amphan', a senior official said on Sunday.

On Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's direction, the district collectors of Ganjam, Gajapti, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak, Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Jajpur, Cuttack, Khurda and Nayagarh have been asked to remain alert.

'This apart, we are keeping a close watch on the four coastal districts of Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak and Balasore,' Special Relief Commissioner (SRC), P K Jena said.

Stating that the state government is closely monitoring the movement of the cyclonic storm, he said any decision on undertaking evacuation of people living in the low-lying areas and in thatched and mud houses will be taken with assessment of the situation after 'Amphan' recurves.

While arrangements have been made to shift around 11 lakh people from vulnerable areas to safe places, the number of people to be evacuated and places where such operation is required will be decided at the right time, Jena said.

He said of the 809 cyclone shelters in the 12 coastal districts, 242 are now being used as temporary medical camps for the returnees from different states amid the COVID-19 lockdown.

'We have 567 cyclone and flood shelters available to house the people in case evacuation is required. In addition, we have arranged 7,092 buildings to keep people if required,' Jena said.

Patnaik has put a target of zero casualty before the administration, saying, 'Saving lives is our priority and we should put our best efforts to save every precious human life'.

'Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF), NDRF and fire service personnel have already been sent to the districts. We are also in constant touch with the Indian Coast Guard, IMD and NDRF for any requirement,' Jena said.

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) Director General S N Pradhan said 10 teams have been sent to seven districts in Odisha and 10 others kept stand by.

Arrangements have already been made to restore power, water supply, clear roads, start rescue and relief operations immediately after the cyclone impact subsides in the state.

Regarding a large number of migrants returning to Odisha from other states, many of them on foot, Jena said personnel at border checkposts have been asked to take appropriate steps keeping the cyclone situation in view.

Cyclone Amphan has gathered strength and intensified into a severe cyclonic storm over the Bay of Bengal, raising the likelihood of heavy rainfall coupled with high-velocity wind in several coastal districts of Odisha and parts of West Bengal.

It is likely to cross West Bengal-Bangladesh coasts between Sagar Islands in West Bengal and Hatiya islands in Bangladesh between the afternoon and evening of May 20 as a very severe cyclonic storm. PTI SKN SOM NSD NSD