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Cyclone Nisarga: 16 NDRF teams on alert in Maharashtra

UPDATED ON JUN 02, 2020 01:18 AM IST

Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri, Raigad, Thane, Mumbai City, Mumbai Suburban and Palghar districts are on alert following warnings of cyclone Nisarga issued by the India Meteorological Department (IMD). The tropical cyclone is expected to make landfall south of Mumbai on June 3.

Sixteen teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), comprising 45 jawans each, are on alert in the state. While 10 teams have been deployed, six are on standby. Three teams have been deployed in Mumbai, two in Palghar, two in Raigad and one each in Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri and Thane, a state official confirmed.

Kishor Nimbalkar, secretary, relief and rehabilitation, said, “We are taking all measures and precautions to tackle the situation. There is no need to worry. The districts along the coast have been put on alert and we have also alerted NDRF.”

A state official, on condition of anonymity, said, “We might deploy more by Tuesday afternoon. We will also get a clearer picture about the intensity and landfall by Tuesday afternoon.”

Collectors in the seven districts have been instructed to shift all informal settlements as well as people living in homes with thatched roofs along the shoreline. The state has also said that those shifted to relief centres must adhere to physical distancing norms, owing to the Covid-19 outbreak.

While Maharashtra government on Sunday had said beaches may open from June 3, the official said it is standard operating procedure (SOP) to close down beaches during a cyclone. The state may issue an order to close down beaches on Wednesday, owing to the cyclone.

He also said that though 90% of fishermen have returned to base, many from Palghar are still out at sea. While 577 boats from Palghar district had ventured out, only 477 have returned, collector Kailash Shinde said. The collector has asked fishermen from Dahanu, Palghar, Vasai, and Talasari to not venture out. Industries, shops and commercial establishments have also been shut for a day.

Palghar collector Kailash Shinde said, “We have started making announcements near the shoreline. We have also asked power stations to be on alert in case of an emergency. All beaches will also be closed and we are also considering imposing section 144 to prevent any sort of crowding near beaches.”

Each district already has a disaster management plan to tackle natural or man-made disasters. The district-wise disaster management plan has detailed information about the geography of the area, the demographics and SOPs to be put in place with regard to major disasters like floods and other natural calamities. It also has details on the number of fire brigades, police stations, hospitals and health centres that need to be alerted in case of emergencies. The collectors are expected to modify the disaster management plan as per the latest developments in order to respond to the situation most effectively, and activate the plans. Collectors are expected to activate these plans this morning.

In Mumbai city and suburbs, 11 teams that are adept at flood response in low-lying areas, 94 lifeguards at different beaches, and three NDRF teams are on alert. PS Rahangdale, chief fire officer of Mumbai Fire Brigade and deputy municipal commissioner of the city’s department of disaster management, said, “Altogether a team of 200 people are on high alert. We have also been undertaking periodic maintenance of equipment for a smoother response.”

In his live address to the state on Sunday night, chief minister Uddhav Thackeray had also asked fishermen along the stretch between Sindhudurg and Mumbai to not venture close to the shore.

The state has an outlay of Rs 1,611 crore under its State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF), from which funds are drawn for natural calamities such as cyclones. The Central government is expected to take up a share of 75% of the outlay. According to an official from the relief and rehabilitation department, district collectors are delegated power to use these funds in case of calamities.

“Every district has its own fund reserved for natural calamities with collectors given standing powers to draw money [from it]. The district disaster management authorities headed by collectors follow SOPs prepared for evacuation and rehabilitation in case of calamities,” the officer said.

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