Over 74,000 people shifted as ‘very severe’ cyclone to make landfall today.

Authorities in Gujarat have relocated more than 74,000 people across eight districts to safer locations, pulled down 4,000 hoardings and pressed hundreds of relief personnel into action as the state braces for cyclone Biparjoy to crash ashore in a day.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Wednesday issued a red alert for the Kutch and Saurashtra coasts as the very severe cyclonic storm – with winds of 130-145kmph gusting upto 155kmph – barrelled up the Arabian Sea off India’s western coast. As of 8.30pm, it was 220km west-southwest of Gujarat’s Jakhau Port and was moving east-northeast at a speed of around 6kmph.

“It is very likely to move northeastwards and cross Saurashtra and Kutch and adjoining Pakistan coasts between Mandvi (Gujarat) and Karachi (Pakistan) near Jakhau Port (Gujarat) by evening of 15th June as a very severe cyclonic storm with maximum sustained wind speed of 120-130 kmph gusting to 145 kmph,” IMD added in its 10.30pm bulletin.

Gujarat’s relief commissioner Alok Pandey said more than 74,000 people were moved to safer locations and added that the evacuation process was completed by Wednesday evening.

Of the total 74,345 people moved to temporary shelters in eight coastal districts, according to a statement by the Gujarat government, nearly 34,300 were evacuated in Kutch district alone, followed by 10,000 in Jamnagar, 9,243 in Morbi, 6,089 in Rajkot, 5,035 in Devbhumi Dwarka, 4,604 in Junagadh, 3,469 in Porbandar district and 1,605 in Gir Somnath district.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah have already held review meetings to direct relief operations on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.

Eighteen teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) – each team comprising 25-30 personnel – and 12 teams of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) were deployed across the affected districts. NDRF teams are stationed in Kutch, Devbhumi Dwarka, Rajkot, Jamnagar, Junagadh, Porbandar, Gir Somnath, Morbi, and Valsad, while SDRF teams are positioned in Kutch, Jamnagar, Devbhumi Dwarka, Junagadh, Porbandar, Gir Somnath, Morbi, Patan, Banaskantha, and Surat, state officials said.

To ensure the safety of the population, more than 4,000 hoardings were removed in these districts, the officials added. Additionally, 597 teams from the Paschim Gujarat Vij Company Limited (PGVCL) were mobilised to restore power supply in the aftermath of the cyclone, according to a statement from the state government.

Biparjoy developed as a depression over southeast Arabian Sea at 5.30am on June 6, and intensified into an extremely severe cyclonic storm by June 11. On Tuesday, IMD said it weakened marginally to a very severe cyclonic storm but still retained its devastating capacity.

The intensity of rainfall is expected to escalate on Thursday, with extremely heavy showers expected in Kutch, Devbhumi Dwarka, and Jamnagar, said IMD. The Porbandar, Rajkot, Morbi, and Junagarh districts of Gujarat are likely to experience heavy to very heavy rainfall as well. Additionally, isolated heavy to very heavy rainfall is expected over the remaining districts of Saurashtra and the north Gujarat regions, according to IMD.

The storm will gradually weaken further, becoming squally with wind speeds reaching 45-55 kmph, gusting to 65 kmph, by the morning of June 16, IMD said. The Saurashtra coast can expect squally wind with speeds of 55-65 kmph, gusting to 75 kmph on Thursday. Additionally, southern Rajasthan region should prepare for squally wind speeds of 45-55 kmph, gusting to 65 kmph, during the afternoon and evening of Friday, said IMD.

Given the severity of the cyclonic storm, IMD issued a storm surge warning for Kutch, Devbhumi Dwarka, Porbandar, Jamnagar, and Morbi districts. The low-lying areas in these districts are at risk of being inundated, as a storm surge of about 2-3 meters above the astronomical tide is anticipated during Biparjoy’s landfall.

The Border Security Force (BSF) also readied itself to overcome the challenges posed by the cyclone. Ravi Gandhi, inspector general of BSF, Gujarat, visited the coastal areas of Bhuj to oversee measures being adopted.

“The cyclone is predicted to pass along the Indo-Pak international border. Besides guarding the international border, BSF has also swiftly mobilised requisite resources for rescue operations… About 50 villagers of Gunao village located close to Jakhau coast have been shifted to Gunao outpost of BSF,” said BSF officials.

Gujarat chief minister Bhupendra Patel on Wednesday night reached the state emergency operations centre in Gandhinagar and held a meeting with top officials to review the situation, said the release.

Defence minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday spoke to the three service chiefs and reviewed the preparations of the armed forces to deal with the impact of the cyclone.

Source- Hindustan Times.

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