(Eds: Adds details) Ahmedabad, Jun 2 (PTI) With the IMD predicting that cyclone 'Nisarga' will turn into a 'severe cyclonic storm' by Wednesday afternoon and bringing gusty winds with heavy rains in south Gujarat, the government has started evacuating over 78,000 people from four districts located near the coastline and deployed 19 teams of NDRF and SDRF, officials have said.
While 13 teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and six teams of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) have been deployed at different locations, five more teams of the NDRF will arrive soon.
'A total of 78,971 persons living near the seashore in Valsad, Surat, Navsari and Bharuch districts will be shifted to safer locations. 1,727 villagers have already been shifted,' Gujarat Relief Commissioner Harshad Patel told reporters in Gandhinagar on Tuesday.
140 buildings have been identified as temporary shelters for evacuees in these four districts.
Patel said rescue teams have been given PPE kits in view of the coronavirus pandemic and they have also been directed to take precautionary measures like maintaining social distancing and providing masks to evacuees at rescue shelters.
Meanwhile, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Tuesday indicated that the cyclonic storm might not make a landfall on the Gujarat coast.
'However, it willl bring gusty winds coupled with heavy rainfall in the coastal belt,' state MeT centre director Jayanta Sarkar said.
As per an IMD release, the deep depression over east-central Arabian Sea is currently located around 670 kms away from Surat and it may intensify into a cyclonic storm in the next six hours.
'In the subsequent 12 hours, it will turn into a severe cyclonic storm and cross north Maharashtra and adjoining south Gujarat coast between Harihareshwar and Daman, close to Alibaug of Maharashtra during the afternoon of June 3, with a maximum sustained wind speed of 100 to 110 kmph,' it said.
Sarkar said that as per the present predictions, the cyclone will make a landfall near Alibaug, located between north Maharashtra and south Gujarat.
'Though the cyclone will not cross south Gujarat, it will leave its impact in the form of gusty winds and heavy rainfall in south Gujarat,' said Sarkar.
He said fishermen have been asked not to venture into the sea and ports have been asked to hoist the warning signals.
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Monday held a meeting with senior officials and took stock of the preparedness of the administration. PTI PJT PDGK NSK NSK