Odisha likely to evacuate 11 lakh people once Cyclone Amphan re-curves
The Odisha government will decide on evacuating people from low-lying areas in 12 districts including 6 coastal ones when the re-curve process of very severe cyclonic storm Amphan begins on Sunday late evening, officials said.
Special Relief Commissioner Pradeep Jena said the government is waiting for the latest forecast of the India Meteorological Department on the re-curve of the very severe cyclonic storm on the basis of which the government will fine-tune the vulnerability mapping.
IMD regional director HR Biswas said the very severe cyclonic storm Amphan is likely to intensify further into an extremely severe cyclonic storm during the next 24 hours and move nearly northwards slowly during the next 12 hours and then re-curve north-northeastwards and move fast across the northwest Bay of Bengal and cross West Bengal-Bangladesh coasts between Digha in Bengal and Hatiya Islands of Bangladesh on May 20 evening. The cyclone now lies over the central parts of South Bay of Bengal, about 960 km south of Paradip and 1,110 km south-southwest of Digha.
Jena said of the 12 districts that would be affected, 4 coastal districts of Balasore, Bhadrak, Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara are particularly vulnerable to Cyclone Amphan as they are close to the Cone of Uncertainty of the storm.
The Cone of Uncertainty of the cyclone is designed to convey uncertainty in the forecast of the storm’s centre not necessarily the areas that will experience the impact. The cone, however, does not take the size of the storm into account.
Jena said the state has planned possible evacuation of 11 lakh people to 542 unused cyclone shelters and 1,072 additional buildings in 12 districts. He said of the total 809 cyclone shelters in 12 districts, 242 are now being used as quarantine centres.
“But unlike previous cyclones where the evacuees were kept herded together in cyclone shelters, this time social distancing norms will be ensured as per the Covid-19 guidelines. This is for the first time that the state government is dealing with a pandemic and a natural disaster. As we have given more priority to Covid-19, we will need more buildings to be used as cyclone shelters,” he said.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has already sent 10 teams to Odisha and 7 teams to West Bengal to tackle the cyclone.
The impending cyclone has forced the Railways to divert the route for its Bhubaneswar-New Delhi-Bhubaneswar AC Special trains running from Bhubaneswar between May 19 and 22. The trains will now travel via Bhubaneswar-Angul-Sambalpur City-Jharsuguda-Rourkela-Tata route, bypassing the Bhadrak-Balasore-Hijli route.