The Gujarat government is all geared up to deal with the cyclone, which is expected to hit its coast somewhere between Surat and the Gulf of Cambay any time between Thursday and Friday evening.
A red alert has been sounded all over the state, with special emphasis on Bhavnagar, Junagadh, Jamnagar, Rajkot, Surat, Kutch, Valsad, Navsari, Anand and Bharuch districts, and government officials have been told to gear up for any eventuality.
Surat Collector Sangeeta Singh said, "There can be flooding in low lying areas and we are taking all kinds of precautionary measures."
She informed that various departments chiefs, which included the revenue department, Surat police, fire brigade, Surat Municipal Corporation and Gujarat Electricity Board, held an emergency meeting on Wednesday night to discuss the precautionary measures.
"A red alert has been declared in Surat," Singh added.
All the 14 talukas in Surat district had been alerted and officials provided with walkie talkie sets for communication. Salt workers and fishermen have been instructed not to venture into the sea.
Ashwin Mehta, Deputy Commissioner of Surat Municipal Corporation, who is monitoring the overall situation said, "We are geared up to face the cyclone and have set up seven control rooms. We have alerted hospitals and the fire brigade."
Meanwhile, trucks have been kept ready to evacuate people from low lying areas if it rains on Thursday evening.
The Gujarat government has also asked the army to be prepared for rescue missions in case of an emergency.
The severe cyclonic storm, positioned 550 km south of Veraval on Thursday, was slowly moving northwards and expected to cross the south Gujarat coast between Veraval and Surat by Saturday morning.
India Meteorological Department (IMD) Chief Dr A B Mazumdar said the accompanying wind was moving at a speed of about 140 to 160 kmph and added, "The slow progress of the cyclone is a sign that it may take a turn."
However, he said it was premature to predict whether the cyclone would definitely change course again. "Usually fast-moving cyclones suddenly slow down before taking a turn. Though it is unlikely the cyclone would again turn towards Maharashtra or Goa," he said.
"If the cyclone hits Gujarat, gale winds of very high velocity and storm surge is expected," Mazumdar added.
Cyclone veers away from Goa and heads for southern Maharashtra coast
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