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'Nivar' now a very severe cyclonic storm

Source: PTI
Last updated on: November 25, 2020 21:52 IST
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Torrential rains accompanied by gusty winds lashed several parts of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry on Wednesday, inundating many localities while over one lakh people were moved to shelters as 'Nivar' intensified into a very severe cyclonic storm and is closing in on the coast.

IMAGE: Strong winds ahead of the landfall of Cyclone Nivar, in Kovalam. Photograph: R Senthil Kumar/PTI Photo

The severe cyclonic storm Nivar over southwest Bay of Bengal moved west northwards, intensified into a very severe cyclonic storm and lay about 160 km off Chennai and 85 km from Puducherry, the India Meteorological Department said.

In its latest bulletin, the IMD said the storm was likely to cross the coast between Karaikal in Puducherry and Mamallapuram, about 60 km from here,"during the midnight of November 25 and early hours of 26 November" with a wind speed of 120-130 kmph gusting to 145 kmph.

 

With rains under the influence of the cyclone drenching the city and several other parts of the state, authorities have evacuated over one lakh people and housed them in shelters besides disconnecting power supply in vulnerable areas as a precautionary measure.

Chennai, Chengelpet, Tiruvallur and Cuddalore districts and Puducherry received heavy rains. Chennai recorded the
maximum of 16 cm on Wednesday, while Puducherry received ten cms, the IMD said.

Thursday was declared a public holiday for 16 districts in Tamil Nadu and in Puducherry and Karaikal regions by the governments in the state and the union territory respectively and people were asked to stay indoors till the storm crossed.

The gates of Chembarambakkam reservoir were opened for the first time in five years as a precautionary measure, releasing a torrent of surplus water into the Adyar river after its storage was just 20 per cent short of its capacity due to heavy rains ahead of the incoming cyclone.

As the surplus waters gushed forth with the opening of shutters, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami inspected the dam premises and reviewed the precautionary measures and the outflow.

IMAGE: People stand near a shore during strong winds ahead of the landfall of Cyclone Nivar, in Kovalam. Photograph: R Senthil Kumar/PTI Photo

PWD officials said 1,000 cusecs was released from the lake initially as the water level stood at 22 feet against the maximum total 24 feet while the storage reached 80 per cent of its capacity. By 8 pm, the water release was gradually increased to 5,000 cusecs, they said.

Delayed opening of the reservoir in 2015 after very heavy rains was seen as a trigger for the devastating floods that hit the city then, though the government had rejected it.

Tamil Nadu Revenue Minister R B Udhayakumar and officials said over 1.21 lakh people, including children, have been housed in 1,000 relief centres in various districts, including Nagapattinam, Cuddalore and Villupuram districts.

Food, water and all other essentials including masks to help prevent coronavirus have been made available to them in the relief centres, he said.

As a precautionary measure, electricity distribution was stopped in several regions and especially in areas that have overhead power transmission lines.

Civic authorities meanwhile removed banners and hoardings in several districts including Chennai and Vellore expecting squally winds.

Chennai airport authorities said flight operations will remain suspended from 7 pm on Wednesday till 7 am on Thursday considering the safety aspect of passengers and the severity of the approaching cyclone.

Southern Railway said eight trains, including the Danapur-KSR Bengaluru Special, were diverted skipping Chennai and 10 trains including the Chennai Central-Coimbatore Special were cancelled.

IMAGE: Fishermen move their boats to a safer place near Mamallapuram before the landfall of Cyclone Nivar, in Mamallapuram. Photograph: R Senthil Kumar/PTI Photo

The Chennai Metro Rail, which operated minimum services, ended it at 8 pm and usual operations would resume on Thursday depending on the weather.

Under the influence of the cyclone, coastal and north interior Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Karaikal regions are likely to receive rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy showers at a few places and extremely heavy rains at isolated places, the IMD said.

South coastal Andhra Pradesh is also likely to witness showers at most places on Wednesday.

Rainfall is expected to continue in many places in these regions on Thursday too with heavy rainfall at some places.

Chennai and its suburbs, which received heavy overnight rains, continued to witness intermittent showers coupled with strong winds with low-lying areas getting inundated and water entering houses in such localities.

The government said it has nominated IAS official V Arun Roy to oversee relief activities in Chengelpet district.

IMAGE: A policeman guides traffic as Chennai and its surrounding areas hve been lashed by heavy rains. Photograph: R Senthil Kumar/PTI Photo.

Civic body officials said stagnant water was pumped out by deploying heavy duty motors and fallen trees were being removed immediately.

In Puducherry, Chief Minister V Narayanasamy visited some coastal villages to monitor steps taken to ensure the safety of fishermen community as the government said the administrative machinery is fully geared to meet any exigency.

Prohibitory orders under section 144 CrPC have been clamped in Puducherry region from Tuesday night till 6 am on Thursday to restrict movement of people.

Parts of the UT have been experiencing intermittent moderate rains since Tuesday night under the influence of the cyclonic storm.

People living in low lying areas or residing close to the sea shore were being evacuated to safer places or to 200 relief camps set up in Puducherry region with basic amenities, including food.

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