New Delhi, May 18 (PTI) Super cyclone 'Amphan', which will make landfall on May 20 between Digha in West Bengal and Hatia Island in Bangladesh, is a significant development and 53 teams are on job to save lives and property, NDRF chief S N Pradhan said on Monday.
Addressing a hurriedly convened press conference along with IMD DG M Mohapatra, Pradhan said the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) was not taking Amphan lightly as it is only the second time that India is facing a super cyclone in the Bay of Bengal region.
He said this is a very 'significant development' as this is the second super cyclone after the first one hit the Odisha coast in 1999.
The landfall of cyclone 'Amphan' would be on May 20 between Digha in West Bengal and Hatia Island in Bangladesh, he said. The landing could also take place between Sagar Island or Kakdwip and both are residential areas, the NDRF Director General said.
When Amphan makes landfall, its wind speed is expected to be between 195-200 km per hour and it will be in residential areas, he said.
As per the India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecast, Pradhan said houses with thatched roof, coconut trees, telecom and electrical lines can suffer serious damage.
This could lead to loss of human lives and property and hence our preparation should be according to that and this is what the state governments have also been told, he said.
The NDRF chief said his force has dedicated a total of 53 teams, including those on standby, for both Odisha and West Bengal.
In West Bengal there would be 19 teams with four on standby and in Odisha there will be 13 teams with 17 on standby, he said.
An NDRF team has about 45 personnel.
Six NDRF battalions are on 'hot standby' at various locations in the country so that they can be used for reinforcement after immediate airlift by Indian Air Force transport planes, the DG said.
He said the central government is giving all importance to the impending cyclone.
'The Centre has taken the rapid transformation of the cyclone from being a severe one to a super cyclone very seriously and this is probably the first time that all three big platforms of the national crisis management committee led by cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba, review by Home Ninister Amit Shah and NDMA chairman and Prime Minister Narendra Modi took place back-to-back,' he said.
'It is a dual challenge as cyclone is striking in the time of the COVID-19 outbreak. We are taking all precautions,' he said.
Asked if the West Bengal government was on the same page with the Centre on the issue, Pradhan said 'there is no problem of coordination with any of the states.' Meanwhile, Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba chaired a meeting of the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) and discussed the preparedness and requirements for the impending super cyclone, an official spokesperson said.
Gauba spoke to the chief secretary of West Bengal regarding the state's requirements and preparedness.
He also requested the governments of West Bengal and Odisha to take all preventive actions. These include timely evacuation of people from the areas likely to be affected, the spokesperson said.
The cabinet secretary advised that having a 24x7 control room, provision of adequate food items, preparations for timely restoration of essential services i.e. power and telecom is necessary as the super cyclone is of high intensity.
He also assured of any immediate assistance from the central government.
Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla has also spoken to the chief secretaries of West Bengal and Odisha.
He told told them that as per the state's request, 13 teams of the NDRF have already been pre-positioned in West Bengal, four teams are enroute and four teams are on standby, the spokesperson said.
Further, sufficient number of Army, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard teams have been put on alert to meet any contingency and provide support to the state government.
PTI NES ACB KJ KJ