Nisarga kills 6; heavy showers lash Mumbai
The severe cyclonic storm which made landfall in Maharashtra’s coastal district of Raigad between 12.15 pm and 12.30 pm Wednesday and left at least six dead, 16 injured and nearly 13000 hectares of cropland damaged in northern parts of the state as well as its coastal districts, weakened into a depression early Thursday as it moved inland with a decreased wind speed of 23 kmph promising relief to drought-prone Vidarbha and other parts of eastern Maharashtra where a heat wave alert had been sounded late last month.
Mumbai, which was in the path of cyclone Nisarga that approached the Konkan coastline with a gusting wind speed of 120 kmph, was left largely unscathed on Wednesday but witnessed heavy showers the following day, with the southern tip of Colaba recording a relative humidity level of 92% at 8.30 am and 49.6mm of rain by 5.30 pm Thursday, causing water-logging in some of the low-lying areas of the city.
Of the 20,000 residents of low-lying areas like Colaba, Worli Koliwada, Mahim and Kurla who were evacuated by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Wednesday in preparation for the cyclonic impact, at least 5000 returned after being screened for symptoms of the coronavirus (Covid-19) disease. Civic authorities have plans to screen all persons before they return. The evacuees were put up in 35 government schools.
The cyclone alert has been withdrawn in the coastal districts, Kishorraje Nimbalkar, secretary, relief and rehabilitation confirmed.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and state revenue minister Balasaheb Thorat held a video conference with the district collectors and divisional commissioners of affected districts, including Palghar, Thane and Raigad among others on Thursday and announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 4 lakh for the family of those who lost their lives due to the cyclone. District officials have been asked to assess the damage and submit reports by June 8 following which a relief package is expected to be announced.
In Raigad district, where the cyclone made landfall near Diveagar and Shrivardhan — south of the coastal resort town of Alibag — mobile connectivity and power supply have been hit. Nearly 500 mobile towers have also been damaged in Raigad district.
“More than 100,000 trees have fallen and a similar number of homes have sustained damage. We have opened up the state and national highways that were blocked since Wednesday morning. But village roads are still blocked and the communication is disrupted due to power cuts. Thousands of electricity poles have collapsed. Unless we restore the electricity, telecommunications cannot be established,” Padmashree Bainade, resident deputy collector of Raigad said.
At least 5000 hectares in Palghar, and 8000 hectares of agricultural cropland in Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Raigad and Nashik among other districts have reported damage.
“While cyclones are a common occurrence in the east coast, it has happened along the west coast after several decades. We must be prepared to tackle these situations in the future too,” Thackeray told administration officials.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) had cleared 470 trees and 78 electric poles from 173 km of roadways till Thursday evening; the restoration work will continue till the end of the week, officials said.
Even districts like Akola, Chandrapur, Nagpur and Bhandara, which recorded over 46 degrees Celsius last month will receive moderate showers over the next 48 hours, IMD’s director general Mrutyunjay Mohapatra said.
Less than 10 days ago, the weather bureau issued a red alert for heatwave conditions for the entire Vidarbha sub-division, with a specific severe heatwave warning for Akola, Nagpur, Chandrapur and Gondia districts.