NCMC reviews preparedness for Cyclone Yaas, special focus on securing Covid health facilities

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New Delhi, May 22 (PTI) The National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) headed by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba met on Saturday to review preparedness for the impending Cyclone Yaas in the Bay of Bengal, with the top bureaucrat of the country directing various agencies to ensure safety of COVID-19 patients, hospitals and oxygen generation plants.

According to a statement by the Union home ministry, the meeting was informed by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) that the cyclone is expected to reach West Bengal and adjoining northern Odisha coasts by the evening of May 26 with wind speeds ranging from 155-165 km per hour, accompanied by heavy rainfall and storm surges in the coastal districts. 'Reviewing the preparedness of the central and state agencies, Gauba stressed that the all measures should be taken in a timely manner so that loss of lives and destruction of property is minimised.' 'He emphasised on the early evacuation of people from the areas likely to be affected by the cyclone along with ensuring the return of all boats/vessels to the shore, so that there is zero loss of life,' the statement said.

With the coronavirus pandemic still raging in the country, the cabinet secretary had a special word for the upkeep and protection of health facilities in this context.

'Gauba also stressed that safety of COVID-19 infected patients be ensured and disruption of functioning of COVID hospitals and centres be avoided.' 'He also advised that steps should be taken to maintain the generation and movement of oxygen from the cyclone affected areas, to other parts of the country,' it said.

The meeting was informed that the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has earmarked a total of 85 teams for deployment in the affected states.

Out of these, 20 will be on standby at its various bases in the country for a quick airlift.

'Rescue and relief teams of the army, navy and coast guard along with ships and aircrafts have also been deployed,' the statement said. The chief secretaries of participating states informed the meeting that 'preparatory measures have been put in place to deal with the cyclonic storm.' 'Evacuation of people from the low lying areas is being carried out. Adequate stocks of food grains, drinking water and other essential supplies have been arranged and preparations made to maintain essential services such as power, telecommunications, etc.,' it said.

'Necessary arrangements are also being made to ensure uninterrupted functioning of hospitals and COVID care centres, along with ensuring generation and supply of oxygen to COVID facilities across the country,' the meeting was told.

Gauba asked all the relevant state and central government agencies to 'work in close coordination' and extend all requisite assistance to the affected states and union territories.

Chief Secretaries and officers of West Bengal, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Puducherry participated in the meeting.

Secretaries of central ministries and departments like home affairs, power, shipping, telecom, oil, civil aviation, fisheries, the Railway Board chairman, member secretary of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), chief of the integrated defence staff (IDS) and directors general of the coast guard, NDRF and IMD also attended, the statement said.

Early this week, the country faced extremely severe cyclone Tauktae in the Arabian Sea region that hit the Gujarat coast and left a trail of destruction at many places on the western coast. PTI NES SMN SMN

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