As Cyclone ‘Biparjoy’ barrels towards Gujarat, the State government has shifted nearly 21,000 people from coastal areas to safer places.
The cyclone, which is likely to make landfall near Jakhau port in Kutch district on Thursday, holds “extensive damaging potential” for the coastal districts of Saurashtra and Kutch, officials said.
According to the India Meteorological Department, Cyclone ‘Biparjoy’ weakened from an extremely severe cyclone to a very severe cyclone on Tuesday. It is expected to cross Saurashtra and Kutch in Gujarat and the adjoining Pakistan coast between Mandvi in Gujarat and Karachi in Pakistan near the Jakhau port (Gujarat) in the evening of June 15 with a maximum sustained wind speed of 125-150 kmph.
“Its damaging potential could be extensive,” IMD Director General Mrutyunjay Mohapatra said at a press conference in New Delhi.
The cyclone could lead to extremely heavy rainfall (over 20 cm) at isolated places in Kutch, Devbhumi Dwarka, Jamnagar and Porbandar districts from June 13 to 15. Gusty winds and rain may cause extensive damage to standing crops, houses, roads, electricity and communication poles.
“Up to six-metre-high tidal waves are likely to inundate low-lying areas of Saurashtra and Kutch coasts. We have recommended evacuation of the population in such areas and action is being taken,” Mr. Mohapatra said.
The Gujarat government has deployed teams from the National Disaster Response Force and the State Disaster Response Force and created over 500 temporary shelters in eight coastal districts that are likely to be hit by the cyclonic winds accompanied by heavy rain beginning Wednesday.
Shelter homes have been set up with arrangements for rations and food packets. The administration has made plans to deal with the fallout of any health or medical emergency.
“So far, various district administrations have shifted nearly 21,000 people to temporary shelters. The evacuation process is still on and all the targeted population will be shifted by Wednesday to safer places,” said Alok Pandey, Relief Commissioner of Gujarat.
Among the 21,000 people, nearly 6,500 were evacuated in Kutch district alone, followed by 5,000 in Devbhumi Dwarka, 4,000 in Rajkot, 2,000 in Morbi, more than 1,500 in Jamnagar, 550 in Porbandar and 500 in Junagadh district, according to information from the State government.
On Tuesday, the Coast Guard evacuated 50 personnel from oil rig “Key Singapore” in an overnight operation comprising seven sorties. The oil rig is 40 km seaward from Dwarka. The operation was carried out with the help of Coast Guard ship Shoor and an Advanced Light Helicopter Mk III in rough sea conditions and inclement weather.
Army sources said that flood relief columns are at the ready at Bhuj, Jamnagar, Gandhidham, Dhrangadhra, Vadodara and Gandhinagar, as well as at Naliya, Dwarka and Amreli.
Resources have also been made available from neighbouring Rajasthan as well.