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Odisha braces for Cyclone Phailin, NDMA sends troops

By Vicky Nanjappa
October 12, 2013 17:06 IST
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The Odisha government is preparing for Cyclone Phailin -- which is expected to hit the east coast on Saturday evening -- on a war footing, Mihir Bhat from the All India Disaster Mitigation Institute,‎ who is part of the precautionary preparation, told‎

“The Red Message, the highest alert from the Indian Meteorology Department in Delhi, is not only concise and to-the-point, but is also usable to a large extent by the local district officials. The alert also enlists where and what type of damage is expected to shelter and infrastructure,” he said.

The Orissa State Disaster Management Authority team and the ministry for disaster management are managing the largest-ever evacuation exercise in the state and planning large-scale relief preparations. Various departments have taken an initiative in preparedness. The panchayati raj ministry had issued detailed guidelines for preparedness for the impending cyclonic storm as early as on October 9.

Control rooms have been set up in Ganjam and other nine districts, mobile phone numbers have been updated and verified, leaves have been cancelled to have almost all the staff on stand-by, and food and relief stocks are being kept in readiness. Block Development Officers have visited cyclone shelters to keep them ready for the likely influx of those fleeing from the cyclone.

The Odisha government has ensured that there is enough coordination among the various ministries, from panchayati raj to social welfare. A plan of action -- on which department will do what and when once the cyclone strikes -- has been drawn up in detail.

The state government has held meetings with international NGOs to draw up a roadmap to tackle the aftermath of the cyclone.

The National Disaster Management Authority is facilitating local efforts in Odisha, mobilising rescue teams and sending equipment to possible hot spots.

The NDMA has deployed nearly 2,000 personnel of the National Disaster Response Force in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal.

Nearly 4.4 lakh people have been evacuated from danger zones so far in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.

"This might be the second biggest evacuation exercise undertaken since 1990 when six lakh people were evacuated in Andhra Pradesh," said NDMA Vice-Chairman M Shashidhar Reddy.

Rescue and relief teams have been positioned in vulnerable coastal areas of the three states. Some additional teams have also been kept as reserve.

Twenty nine teams of the NDRF have been deployed along with rescue equipment in Odisha. In Andhra Pradesh, 15 teams have been deployed and four additional teams are also being rushed from Tamil Nadu, while seven teams have been deployed in West Bengal.

The teams have been equipped with satellite phones and wireless sets to maintain smooth communication.

With additional inputs from PTI

Image used for representational purpose only

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Vicky Nanjappa