The Election Commission on Tuesday lifted the Model Code of Conduct in 11 districts of Odisha to enable relief and rescue operations ahead of the landfall of Cyclone Fani, IANS reported. The districts are Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak, Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Gajapati, Ganjam, Khordha, Cuttack and Jajpur.
Odisha Chief Electoral Officer Surendra Kumar said the poll panel has also approved the shifting of polled electronic voting machines in Jagatsinghpur and Gajapati districts, ANI reported. The entire shifting process will be conducted in the presence of candidates and will also be recorded on video. Simultaneous Assembly and parliamentary elections are currently underway in the state.
Officials in Odisha have told tourists to leave Puri by Thursday evening and also advised people to cancel all non-essential travel, according to ANI.
The India Meteorological Department has issued a “yellow warning” for the Odisha coast, predicting heavy to very heavy rainfall at some places, and said the storm has intensified into an “extremely severe cyclonic storm”. A yellow warning indicates severely bad weather, warning people who are at risk to take preventive action.
Cyclone Fani – pronounced “Foni” – is expected to cross the Odisha coast between Gopalpur and Chandbali towns, to the south of the town of Puri, on the afternoon of May 3, accompanied by winds of 170 to 180 km per hour, gusting to 200 km per hour. The cyclone is likely to make landfall on May 3.
The IMD has asked fishermen not to venture into the sea. It has also asked for evacuation of people from coastal areas and diversion or suspension of rail and road traffic.
Schools and colleges in Odisha will be closed on Thursday, India Today reported. The leave of doctors and other healthcare personnel has been cancelled till May 15.
The Navy said it was prepared for the cyclone. Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba told ANI: “Eastern Naval Command at Visakhapatnam is ready, all necessary measures have been taken.” Teams from the state’s Disaster Rapid Action Force, besides the National Disaster Response Force and the National Coast Guard are on high alert.