New Delhi: Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba on Friday took stock of the current situation and preparedness for rescue and relief operations to deal with severe cyclone 'Bulbul' over the Bay of Bengal and likely to affect the coastal districts of West Bengal and Odisha, a Home Ministry statement said.

Charing a meeting of the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC), Gauba directed that immediate assistance, as required, be provided. He advised both states to take all steps to avoid casualties and damage to infrastructure and assured them of all assistance from the Centre in this regard.

Gauba was apprised by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) that the cyclone that had developed in the Bay of Bengal has now intensified and is likely to cross the West Bengal coast by the early Sunday morning. Heavy to extremely heavy rainfall accompanied by winds reaching upto 110-120 kmph and tidal waves up to 1.5 meters are expected.

Officials of the West Bengal and Odisha governments informed that necessary preparations have been made by them and the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and Fire Service teams have been deployed.

Fishing operations have been suspended and people in low lying areas are being evacuated to shelter homes. A total of 14 teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been positioned and additional teams are being deployed at the request of the two states.

Defence Ministry officials have informed that teams of the Coast Guard and the Indian Navy are already deployed and the Army and Air Force are on standby.

The West Bengal government has been specifically requested to ensure that people in low lying areas in Sagar islands, East Medinipur and North and South 24 Pargana districts are evacuated to prevent any loss of life, the statement said.

The governments of West Bengal and Odisha were also requested to ensure that all fishermen currently at sea are brought back to the shore, it added.

Senior Union Home and Defence Ministry officials, as well as those from the IMD, NDRF, and National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) attended the meeting. Senior officers from West Bengal and Odisha also took part through video conference.