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Suryakant Jena

Bhubaneswar: A year-on after the strongest summer tropical cyclone in Bay of Bengal, Odisha seems to be staying at the receiving end of yet another disaster at a time when the entire world is battling COVID pandemic.

As the low-pressure system over South-East Bay of Bengal and adjoining South Andaman Sea continues to intensify into a well-marked system, Odisha Special Relief Commissioner on Friday sounded a high alert for 4 north coastal districts of the State which are likely to be most affected in the impending cyclone Amphan.

Following a review meeting today on the status of preparedness for the cyclone, SRC Pradeep Jena informed that 4 north coastal districts of the State – Jagatsinghpur, Balasore, Bhadrak and Kendrapara are likely to suffer the brunt of another cyclone, a year after Cyclone Fani ravaged the coastal parts of the State.
As per latest forecast by the India Meteorological Department, the Well Marked Low Pressure will turn into a depression by this evening or tonight and thereafter intensify further into a cyclonic storm by tomorrow evening.

Under the impact of the system, several districts of Odisha will start to witness adverse weather with heavy rainfall and stormy conditions from May 18 onwards.

Districts of Puri, Ganjam, Gajapati and Kendrapara are likely to witness winds with speed of 40 to 50 kmph gusting up to 65 kmph on May 18. Similarly on May 19, areas of Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Jajpur, Balasore, Bhadrak, Mayurbhanj might also witness high windy conditions.

The State government has however refused to comment anything on the exact place of landfall and its movement as of now.

In view of any exigency, collectors of north-coastal districts have been asked to remain on high vigil and ensure preparedness at the earliest. To streamline fightback operation for the cyclone, the State government has asked the departments of Cooperation, Energy, Water Resources to remain on high alert.

District authorities have been directed to identify all possible locations and centres to be used as shelter camps for people during the cyclonic storm. Since several cyclone shelters have already been used up as Covid centres, the Collectors have been asked to identify alternate centres in case any evacuation operation is needed. Sarpanchs and school teachers will be in charge of shelter homes, said the SRC.

Briefing on preparations for the cyclone, the SRC said that a preliminary discussion has been conducted with the police, fire services, NDRF and other disaster management stakeholders.

Preparations for rescue, relief and restoration work, arrangement of clean drinking water, cleaning of roads among other aspects were discussed, the SRC said.

During the presser, the SRC, however, said that the State government is hopeful that chances of any flood situation during the cyclone are unlikely.

Addressing the presser, Odisha Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy said the State’s efforts in tackling natural disasters like cyclone have been lauded at international stage, so, irrespective of IMD forecast on landfall, collectors and all other senior officials should stay fully prepared for the worst situation.

IMD (DG) Mruyunjay Mohapatra informed media about the latest Met models forecast which says that the Low-pressure system over SE Bay of Bengal is expected to concentrate into a depression today evening or night & further intensify into a cyclonic storm over south & adjoining central parts of Bay of Bengal by tomorrow evening.

Collector of Jajpur, Gyana Das informed that 7 blocks of the district have been put on alert even though more focus is on Basudevpur and Chandbali because all 72 GPs of both the blocks are vulnerable in the light of the cyclone. As many as 600 schools have been identified in the district which can be used as cyclone shelters. Holidays of all government officials have been cancelled.

The authorities of Kendrapara have begun extensive arrangements to tackle the cyclone. “We are in continuous touch with the State and IMD officials. Even though we have no idea on the impact of the storm, in view of the chances of heavy downpour, we have made necessary arrangements. Rapid Response Teams, R&B, RD, Road clearing parties are on standby for deployment during the cyclone. Dry food arrangement has also been ensured," said Kendrapara Collector Samarth Verma.

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