Bengal and Odisha on alert as Cyclone Remal nears | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Bengal and Odisha on alert as Cyclone Remal nears

May 25, 2024 06:28 AM IST

NDRF, along with the army, navy and Coast Guard were kept ready, even as the NCMC directed authorities to ensure minimum loss due to Cyclone Remal.

Kolkata: School buildings in three coastal districts of West Bengal were earmarked as cyclone shelters, district control rooms were activated, emergency services put on standby and advisories were issued to ports in Kolkata, and Paradip in Odisha on Friday, as the eastern states braced for moderate to heavy rain expected to be caused by a severe cyclonic storm over the weekend.

Personnel from West Bengal Disaster Management alert locals ahead of the landfall of cyclone Remal, in South 24 Parganas district. (PTI)
Personnel from West Bengal Disaster Management alert locals ahead of the landfall of cyclone Remal, in South 24 Parganas district. (PTI)

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams, along with the army, navy and Coast Guard were kept ready, even as the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) directed authorities to ensure minimum loss due to the cyclonic storm, Cyclone Remal, which is brewing over the Bay of Bengal.

The preparations in Bengal for the impact of the cyclonic storm coincides with those for polling in eight Lok Sabha seats, including two (Kanthi and Tamluk) in East Midnapore district, in the sixth phase of the ongoing general elections on Saturday.

According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), cyclone Remal is expected to make landfall between Sagar island in Bengal and Khepupara in Bangladesh around Sunday midnight, bringing moderate to heavy rain in the coastal districts of Bengal and areas of northern Odisha from Saturday to Monday.

While the IMD has issued a red alert for Bengal’s coastal districts of North and South 24 Parganas districts, warning of gusty winds accompanied by extremely heavy rainfall at one or two places on Sunday and Monday, an orange alert was issued for Kolkata, Howrah and East Midnapore (another coastal district), with a forecast of marginally reduced intensity for the two days.

“...By the midnight of May 26, the cyclonic storm will hit coastal areas of West Bengal when the wind speed will be 110-120 kmph. The wind speed is expected to be higher in Bangladesh. In the North and South 24 Parganas, the wind speed will be highest,” IMD director general Mrutyunjay Mohapatra said.

“As a result, light to moderate rainfall will begin tomorrow. On May 26-27, in addition to heavy to very heavy rainfall in West Bengal, extremely heavy rainfall is also expected. Coastal areas of north Odisha can witness isolated heavy rainfall and the kind speed will be 40-50 kmph. Rainfall will lash all the northeastern states and there is extreme rainfall warning in some areas,” he added.

The NCMC, the country’s apex decision-making body on emergency situations, held a meeting chaired by Cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba and asked all fishermen currently in the Bay of Bengal to return to safety.

Gauba also asked the Bengal government to review the placement of large hoardings in the areas likely to be affected by the cyclonic storm. At least 16 people were killed in Mumbai on May 13 after a giant hoarding collapsed during a dust storm.

“Rescue and relief teams of the Army, Navy and Coast Guard along with ships and aircraft have been kept in readiness. Regular alerts and advisories are being sent by Director General, Shipping to the ports of Kolkata and Paradip,” an NCMC release later said.

In South 24 Parganas, around 5,000 people in vulnerable areas across eight blocks have been identified.

“We have already deployed three NDRF teams in Gosaba, Sagar and Kadwip. Four SDRF teams have been deployed in Basanti, Gosaba, Sagar and Kadwip. Announcements about the approaching cyclone were being made on loudspeakers. Quick Response Teams have also been mobilised,” said a senior disaster management official of South 24 Parganas.

While South 24 Parganas has around 115 multipurpose cyclone shelters, East Midnapore has around 43 centres in five sea facing blocks where the population is around 1.5 million.

“Around 900 school buildings in the district have been earmarked as cyclone shelters. But in view of polling on Saturday, some of the buildings cannot be used to provide shelter to the evacuated people,” said an officer of East Midnapore district.

“Preparations are on in full swing, particularly in the delta areas. People have been alerted. School and office buildings and cyclone shelters are being kept ready and relief materials are being stocked,” an official of North 24 Paragans said.

In East Midnapore district, officials expect minimal damage and ruled out the possibility of any large-scale evacuation as of now. “Since the cyclone will make landfall between Sagar island in South 24 Parganas district and Bangladesh, we are not expecting any large-scale evacuation here. The cyclone may not have a huge impact in the district,” an official said.

However, those on polling duty have also been tasked to oversee the preparations to deal with the weather condition, another official said.

“Teams working for Saturday’s polls will be readily available on Sunday before the cyclone hits. They can be mobilised immediately after polling ends on Saturday evening,” the second official who is involved in East Midnapore district’s disaster management and is also on polling duty, said on the condition of anonymity,

A senior district officer said there are around 43 cyclone shelters in five blocks near the sea. “Around 1.5 million people live in these blocks. The cyclone shelters, government offices and high-rise buildings are kept ready to provide shelter to the affected,” the officer said, also seeking anonymity.

“Polling teams with EVMs and VVPAT machines have already reached their destinations. As the cyclone is expected on Sunday night, we are not expecting any disruption on the polling day,” said an IAS officer from Haldia in East Midnapore.

Airport authorities held a meeting on Friday afternoon with stakeholders, including meteorological officials and officers from the Air Traffic Control (ATC).

“We are not expecting any disruption on May 25. The cyclone will hit the coastal areas on the night of May 26. There may be some disruptions on Sunday. We will hold another meeting on Saturday afternoon to discuss further developments,” said an airport official.

The cyclonic storm Remal won’t have a direct impact on Odisha, the regional director of IMD Bhubaneswar said on Friday. However, in its wake, most places of north Odisha are likely to experience light to moderate rainfall and districts like Balasore, Bhadrak and Kendrapara are very likely to witness heavy to very heavy rainfall.

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