Anticipating Amphan to be worse than the cyclonic storms Bulbul and Fani, which hit the eastern coast in the recent past, the states of West Bengal and Odisha have readied themselves for the impact, evacuating lakhs of people and putting up the disaster relief teams in place.
The cyclone, which is expected to generate wind-speeds of 175-185 kmph, will make its landfall between Digha in West Bengal and Hatia island in Bangladesh at around 2pm on May 20. West Bengal’s weather department said that the cyclone’s major impact will be felt in the 24 Parganas South and North, Midnapore East districts. It is expected to cause severe thundershowers and rain throughout Wednesday. The cyclone is thereafter expected to cross over to Bangladesh. In Odisha, the districts of Balasore, Bhadrak, Kendrapada and Jagatsinghpur are expected to be affected.
National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) chief S N Pradhan said 41 teams of NDRF have been deployed in West Bengal and Odisha to deal with any emergency situation arising out of the cyclone which has been classified as extremely severe cyclonic storm.
West Bengal has deployed 15 state disaster relief force force (SDRF) teams and Odisha has deployed 20 teams of Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force. People already evacuated in West Bengal stands at three lakh while Odisha expects to evacuate 1.1 million people.
Both states have already set up control rooms and emergency helpline numbers. Temporary shelters have been put up which have been sanitized and provisions for baby food, masks, sanitisers have been provided for. People housing those temporary shelters will also undergo thermal screening.
Boatmen in the backdrop of a rough sea due to cyclone 'Amphan', in Mamallapuram. PTI
Mobile health teams have also been organized for deployment to affected areas. Power back-up arrangement has been made in all hospitals while medicine, anti-snake venom, first aid and other necessary provisions have been kept ready.
Having dealt with recurring tropical cyclonic storms, the Odisha government is aiming at zero casualties from Amphan.
Additional Chief Secretary and Special Relief Commissioner (Odisha) Pradeep Jena said, “By 10pm Tuesday, we would be able to shift all people to safer shelters. In addition to PRI (Panchayat Raj Institutions) and local administration, we are using local based alert system (LBAS) and self-broadcasting system for extending our outreach to people without creating panic among them. We don’t see any real possibility of a tidal surge in Odisha.”
West Bengal is also asking railways to suspend rail services in Bengal for 24 hours till the cyclone has passed and is also suggesting railways to increase the number of bogeys in the trains.
“We will also do special planning for land, forest, agriculture and roads once the cyclone is over”, West Bengal’s chief minister, Mamata Banerjee said.
Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) has also set up a control room at Haldia for 24 hours monitoring of the situation and all the 19 vessels at Sandheads anchorage have picked up their anchor and proceeded down to deep sea so as to avoid the path of the storm.
A KoPT officials said that all cargo handling operation at Diamond Harbour and Sagar anchorage have already beens topped and barges have been told to move up to sheltered waters.
“All movements of inward and outward vessels have been cancelled at Kolkata and Haldia”, the KoPT official said.
The Border Security Force (BSF), which protects the 930 km Indo-Bangladesh border including the Sunderbans – an area expected to be severely affected by the cyclone - has moved its three floating border posts and 45 other patrol boats which are used to guard the Indo-Bangladesh riverine front in the Sunderbans and Icchamati river in West Bengal to safe anchorage.
Union home minister Amit Shah has assured the chief ministers of West Bengal and Odisha, Mamata Banerjee and Navin Patnaik, respectively, of all possible help to deal with Amphan.