Odisha on high alert as Cyclone Fani progresses

Bhubaneswar, Apr 29 (PTI) With the Centre issuing advisory on Cyclone Fani progressing towards the eastern coast, the Odisha government Monday said it has put the coastal districts on high alert and is prepared to face any eventuality.
The entire administration is on high alert following the IMD report on the cyclone and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has reviewed the situation arising out of it, officials said.
The IMD report said the cyclone is very likely to move North-Westward till May 1 and thereafter recurve North- North-Eastward towards Odisha coast.
Cabinet secretary P K Sinha held a video conference with coastal states’ chief secretaries and the ministry of home affairs issued two back to back advisories on the impending natural calamity during the day.
As soon as the polling for the fourth and final phase of elections came to an end this evening, Patnaik reviewed the situation and issued direction to the chief secretary to ensure “zero casualty” in case the cyclone strikes the state.
Patnaik asked the administration to be prepared to evacuate people in case it makes its landfall in the state or there is heavy rainfall in low lying and flood prone areas.
The Chief Minister also issued direction to stock adequate food materials in the panchayat level considering the time that the unusual timing of the cyclone.
The costal district collectors of Ganjam, Khurda, Puri and Kendrapara have meanwhile cancelled the holidays and leaves of government employees as part of the preparedness to face the possible calamity.
“We are preparing a contingency plan to face the situation. We will go for evacuation if required,” Puri district collector J P Das said.
In a high level meeting attended by the top official of Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard, NDRF, Odisha Police and all department secretaries, Chief Secretary A P Padhi sought the cooperation of all agencies.
Stating that the IMD has so far not given any definite information regarding possible landfall of the cyclone in the state, Padhi said its forecast shows that the cyclone is likely to pass near the Odisha coast.
“We are leaving no stone unturned and are preparing to face the situation”, he said adding the fishermen have been warned not to venture into the sea during the period.
Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) B P Sethi said “Though the IMD has not issued any information on the possible landfall of Cyclone Fani in the state, we are keeping a watch on the information being issued by international agencies such as the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre.”
Sethi said all the 880 cyclone centers besides 20 units of Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force, 12 units of National Disaster Response Force and 335 fire units have been put on alert.
Boats are also kept in readiness for rescue operation if required, he said.
“Even if the cyclone did not make a landfall in the state, its impact may be felt in Odisha as heavy rainfall might occur and wind speed reach upto 60 kmph,” Sethi said.
Meanwhile, IMD sources said that the cyclone lay centerd about 840 km east-southeast of Chennai (Tamil Nadu) and 990 km south-southeast of Machilipatnam (Andhra Pradesh).
It is very likely to intensify into a severe cyclonic storm and then into a very severe cyclonic storm, it said.

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