At least 19 districts of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal are likely to be affected by the “extremely severe” cyclonic storm” Fani. The storm is about 450 km from the Odisha coast, the India Meteorological Department said in a release. The state government has started the evacuation process and plans to shift 8 lkah people by evening today
It said the Extremely Severe Cyclonic Storm FANI (pronounced as ‘FONI’) over Westcentral Bay of Bengal moved north-northeastwards with a speed of about 15 kmph in last six hours. It is likely to make landfall at Odisha coast between Gopalpur and Chandbali, on May 3 with wind speed of up to 200 km per hour.
Around 900 cyclone shelters have been made ready to house evacuees while troops of the Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard and 78 teams of the National Disaster response Force (NDRF) have been requisitioned for deployment. The National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC), the country’s top body to handle an emergency situation, on Wednesday reviewed the preparedness for “Fani”,
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) on Wednesday evening said the storm is likely to move northwestwards in the next 12 hours and recurve north and northeastwards afterwards.
The Navy and the Coast Guard have deployed ships and helicopters for relief-and-rescue operations, while the Army and Air Force units in the three states have also been put on standby, an official statement said.
The NDRF has deployed 12 teams in Andhra Pradesh, 28 in Odisha and six in West Bengal. Additionally, 32 teams remain on standby, equipped with boats, tree cutters, and telecom equipment. A single NDRF team consists of 45 personnel.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has directed the administration to ensure a 100% evacuation of people from vulnerable areas. He also emphasised on an early restoration of power, water supply and road communication in the to-be affected blocks. Advisories asking fishermen not to venture into the sea have also been issued.
The Centre has released Rs 1,086 crore for four states as advance financial assistance to undertake preventive and relief measures.
In West Bengal, the cyclone is expected to affect the districts of East and West Medinipur, South and North 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly, Jhargram and Kolkata, while Srikakulam, Vijayanagram and Visakhapatnam are in the storm’s path in Andhra Pradesh.
Meanwhile, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu wrote to the Election Commission asking that the Model Code of Conduct be relaxed in East Godavari, Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam.
State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) has evacuated 480 of its employees from rigs operating in the Bay of Bengal. The company has as many as six rigs exploring and drilling for oil and gas off the Andhra coast and personnel on five of them have been evacuated to safer zones.