Cyclone Gaja over the Bay of Bengal is set to make landfall between Cuddalore and Pamban in Tamil Nadu on Thursday evening. The weather department said wind speed of 80 to 90 km per hour is expected.
The cyclone has moved west-southwards at a speed of 14 km per hour since last night, and is expected to intensify into a severe cyclonic storm before making landfall. It was 370 km northeast of Nagapattinam town around 10 am on Thursday, ANI reported.
The state government has kept 30,500 rescue personnel on standby, while district collectors of Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, Pudukottai, Nagapattinam, Cuddalore and Ramanathapuram have asked schools and colleges not to open. The government has deployed around 15 disaster response teams.
All educational institutions in Puducherry and Karaikal regions will also remain closed. Exams conducted by the Pondicherry University scheduled for Thursday have been postponed, said the university’s Public Relations Officer K Mahesh.
The districts of Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, Thanjavur, Pudukottai, Tiruvarur, Karaikal, Thoothukudi and Ramanathapuram are expected to receive heavy rain as is Puducherry. Very heavy rainfall is expected in isolated places in Tamil Nadu’s interior districts.
Special Officer for Disaster Management Gagandeep Singh Bedi has advised people in Cuddalore to be prepared. “Government is making its best efforts in this regard,” he said, according to ANI.
Tamil Nadu Revenue Minister RB Udayakumar said dams, lakes and rivers channels were being continuously monitored. The Central Water Commission has advised authorities to remain vigilant as heavy rainfall in catchment areas could fill up dams in less than 24 hours.
Udayakumar said mobile operators have assured to move “Cell on Wheels” in order to provide uninterrupted mobile connectivity to Nagapattinam and Cuddalore, which will bear the brunt of the cyclone. Telecom majors have also stocked up on fuel for five days to operate generators to ensure mobile connectivity during power outages, reported The Times of India.
Two naval ships are on standby to help with evacuation, medical aid and relief efforts, ANI reported. The ships will carry additional divers, doctors, inflatable rubber boats and relief material. The Eastern Naval Command said it was monitoring the storm. A P8I aircraft, a Dornier aircraft and helicopters are also on standby to assist rescue workers.
Four teams each of the National Disaster Response Force and Tamil Nadu Disaster Response Force have been positioned in Nagapattinam, while 380 first responders have been deployed in the district, reported ANI. The district collector has also begun efforts to evacuate people.
Fishermen have been advised not to venture into the sea off Tamil Nadu and Puducherry and adjoining south Andhra Pradesh coasts till Thursday, reported The News Minute.
The India Meteorological Department has also issued warnings for several districts in Kerala, according to the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority. A yellow alert has been issued for Kollam, Pathanamthitta and Idukki districts for Thursday while an orange alert has been sounded for Idukki and yellow for Kottayam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Kottayam and Ernakulam districts on Friday. While a yellow alert means the outlook will be updated, an orange alert means the administration should stay prepared for any eventuality.