As cyclonic storm Fani inches closer to making landfall in Odisha, the state government has begun the evacuation of vulnerable population from low-lying areas in 13 districts to safer places.
The government is planning to evacuate 800,000 people by Thursday evening, below the 900,000 people evacuated during tropical cyclone Phailin that hit the state in 2013.
“The process of evacuation of people has already started. Safety and security of people will be given the highest priority. About 0.8 million people are targeted to be evacuated and steps are being taken by the districts collectors accordingly”, Krupa Sindhu Mishra, spokesperson, SRC’s (Special Relief Commissioner) office told media persons.
According to the data received from different districts, 250,000 million people had already been evacuated to shelter houses till 2 pm on Thursday.
Odisha government has identified 3001 shelter homes to accommodate people from the vulnerable pockets in Gajapati, Ganjam, Puri, Jagatsingpur, Kendarapada districts among others. About one lakh food packets are being readied for distribution.
The government has already assigned 12 senior IAS officers to supervise the relief, rehabilitation and restoration work in the districts that are likely to be affected by the cyclone.
Meanwhile, chief minister Naveen Patnaik today held a meeting with the senior officials of telecom providers in the state and reviewed their preparedness for the impending cyclone. He asked telecom service providers to ensure continuity of services during the calamity.
The circle heads of telecom service providers such as Airtel, Reliance Jio, Idea and BSNL attended the meeting. "They have been asked to ensure availability of adequate personnel and fuel at the tower sites to ensure uninterrupted telecom services in case of disruptions", said a senior government official
All the telecom operators have been directed to mobilise Cell on Wheels (movable towers) from other parts of the state to the coastal districts which are likely to be affected and keep them in readiness.
As many as 25 teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been deployed in the districts which will be affected by the severe cyclonic storm and three more teams are on standby in Bhubaneswar. Similarly, 18 teams of Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) have been dispatched and fire services teams are on standby.
East Coast Railways has introduced three special trains to facilitate the safe return of tourists from Puri.
According to the latest IMD bulletin, Fani is located at around 360 kilometres south-southwest of Puri. It is progressing at a speed of 16 kmph towards Odisha coast and is expected to make landfall between 10 AM and 12 noon on Friday. At the time of landfall, the coastal regions will witness a maximum sustained wind speed of 170-180 kilometres per hour (kmph) gusting upto 200 kmph.