Odisha, AP, WB brace for cyclone 'Jawad'; NDRF in readiness to tackle challenge

Representational image: IANS

Bhubaneswar/New Delhi/Kolkata: As cyclonic storm 'Jawad' rolled towards the Odisha-Andhra Pradesh coast on Friday, a day before landfall in Odisha's Puri district, the NDRF kept in readiness its 64 teams to meet any eventuality in the aftermath of the tempest which is likely to also affect West Bengal, officials said.

The cyclonic storm is likely to make landfall somewhere in Puri district of Odisha before heading out to the Bay of Bengal, the state's Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) PK Jena said.

Going by the projected trajectory of cyclone, as issued by the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the system may strike the Puri coast and return to the sea, he told reporters in Bhubaneswar, adding winds gusting at 90-100 kmph will likely impact the district at landfall.

The speed may gradually decrease after touching the Odisha coast, he said.

"There's also a possibility of the cyclonic system changing its course avoiding landfall in Odisha. It could just pass along the coastline, with Puri experiencing a rub-off effect," he said.

NDRF Director General (DG) Atul Karwal told reporters in New Delhi while 46 teams have been deployed or pre-positioned in the vulnerable states, 18 teams have been kept in reserve.

According to the deployment map shared by him at the press conference, out of the 46 teams, 19 are based in West Bengal, 17 in Odisha, 19 in Andhra Pradesh, apart from seven in Tamil Nadu and two in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

All teams have been made available as desired by the various state governments and they will be deployed in consultation with local authorities, the NDRF DG said.

A single NDRF team has about 30 personnel who are equipped with pole cutters, electric saws to clear uprooted trees, inflatable boats and some other relief and rescue gadgets.

"We are confident of taking care of the situation in the best possible manner," Karwal said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Thursday reviewed the preparedness to deal with the situation and directed officials to take every possible measure to ensure people are safely evacuated.

According to the PMO, Modi also directed officials to take every possible measure to ensure maintenance of all essential services such as power, telecommunication, health and drinking water supply, and see to it that they are restored promptly in the event of disruption.

Modi also asked them for adequate storage of essential medicines and supplies, and to plan for unhindered movement, apart from round-the-clock functioning of control rooms.

The cyclonic storm is likely to reach the west-central Bay of Bengal off the coast of north Andhra Pradesh and Odisha by Saturday morning, IMD Director General Mrutyunjay Mohapatra said in the national capital.

It is likely to recurve thereafter north-northeastwards, move along the coast of Odisha and adjoining Andhra Pradesh and touch the coast around Puri by December 5 noon, according to the weather department.

A low-pressure area had developed over the Andaman Sea on November 30. It intensified into a depression on December 2 and further into a deep depression on Friday morning. It turned into a cyclone on Friday noon, the IMD chief said.

A red colour warning has been issued for Andhra Pradesh's Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam districts, and Gajapati, Ganjam, Puri, Jagatsinghpur districts of Odisha for Saturday.

Southern parts of West Bengal, meanwhile, are also bracing for heavy to very heavy downpour and gusty winds.

Teams of the NDRF and state disaster response force have been positioned at vulnerable places in the coastal areas for timely rescue and relief operations, a West Bengal government official said in Kolkata.

The Indian Coast Guard has tasked ships and aircraft to relay weather warning to mariners and guided hundreds of fishing boats back to harbour as a precautionary measure to ensure safety of fishermen, a military official said.

Disaster management teams of the Coast Guard have been kept on standby to provide assistance to local administration, he said.

The IMD has forecast heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places over West Bengal on Saturday and Sunday, and heavy rainfall in isolated places over Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura on Sunday and Monday. Sea conditions will remain unsafe for shipping and fishermen in central and north Bay of Bengal from Friday to Sunday.

The IMD has been issuing regular bulletins with the latest forecast to all the states concerned.

"Off-shore and alongshore operations along the coast of north Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal should be judiciously regulated on Friday and suspended on Saturday and Sunday to ensure safety of life and property," it said.

Squally wind, gusting up to 65 kmph, is likely to start along and off the coast of north Andhra Pradesh and Odisha from Friday midnight. The wind speed will increase up to 100 kmph from Saturday evening for the subsequent 12 hours, the central MeT office said.

The cyclonic storm will intensify into a severe cyclonic storm in the sea for a temporary period, with wind gusting to 110 kmph, Mohapatra said.

Squally wind gusting to 65 kmph was also likely to commence along and off the coast of West Bengal from Friday evening. The wind speed may increase to 80 kmph from Sunday morning for the subsequent 12 hours, the IMD said.

Saudi Arabia has given the cyclone its name 'Jawad'--the liberal or merciful. If India's east coast, often battered by cyclonic storms, escapes its wrath, it will not be a misnomer.

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