Personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were deployed on Sunday in West Bengal and Odisha, which said it was ready to undertake massive evacuation of 11 lakh people likely to be severely hit by the cyclone 'Amphan', officials said.
IMAGE: Marine police personnel patrol Puri beach to prevent tourists and fishermen from venturing into the sea due to Cyclone Amphan, in Puri, Sunday, May 17, 2020. Photograph: PTI Photo
The cyclone, according to an IMD report early Sunday, is developing into a severe cyclonic storm over the Bay of Bengal and can potentially become a very severe cyclonic storm in the next 24 hours, S N Pradhan, the chief of NDRF said in New Delhi.
"The trajectory is mostly towards West Bengal, Sagar Islands and probably towards Bangladesh.... But we have to watch the trajectory very closely. NDRF has deployed the teams well in advance. They are either deployed or moving towards the destination," he said.
As it rolls in towards the Indian shores ominously, the cyclone is likely to unleash heavy rain and high-velocity winds in large swathes of coastal Odisha and West Bengal.
It is likely to cross West Bengal-Bangladesh coasts between Sagar Islands in West Bengal and Hatiya islands in Bangladesh between afternoon and evening of May 20 as a very severe cyclonic storm, Regional MeT Director in Kolkata G K Das said.
Odisha, which has been ravaged by a string of cyclones over the last few years, including the cyclone Fani last year, has made arrangements to shift 11 lakh people from vulnerable areas, Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) P K Jena said.
12 coastal districts--Ganjam, Gajapti, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak, Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Jajpur, Cuttack, Khurda and Nayagarh-- are on high alert.
He said of the 809 cyclone shelters in the 12 coastal districts, 242 are currently 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.
"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," he said, adding 'saving lives is our priority'.
Under its impact, the coastal districts of Gangetic West Bengal, including North and South 24 Parganas, Kolkata, East and West Midnapore, Howrah and Hooghly are likely to experience light to moderate rain at many places with heavy downpour at isolated places on May 19, Regional MeT Director in Kolkata G K Das said.
Pradhan said seven teams of the force have been deployed in West Bengal. These teams are in six districts -- South 24 Parganas, North 24 Parganas, East Midnapore, West Midnapore, Howrah and Hooghly.
In Odisha, 10 teams have been deployed in seven districts -- Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Jajpur, Bhadrak, Balasore and Mayurbhanj.
One team of NDRF consists of around 45 personnel.
Odisha has already chalked out the strategy to restore power and water supply, clear roads, start rescue and relief operations immediately after the cyclone peters out.
About the 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 mind.
According to Ministry of Home Affairs, the cyclone will make a landfall in West Bengal on Wednesday.
The National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) met under Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba on Saturday to review the preparedness for minimising the loss of loss of lives and property at a time when the country is grappling with the coronavirus pandemic.