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Cyclone Nilam takes a toll on TN

The cyclone has left two people dead so far

T E Narasimhan  |  Chennai 

The coastal districts of Tamil Nadu were hit by this evening. With wind speeds of up to 100 km/hour, it severely affected many areas in Tamil Nadu, as well as Andhra Pradesh.

According to PTI reports, the cyclone left two people dead.

Most industrial houses, schools and offices in the coastal districts were closed on Wednesday. Heavy winds damaged roads here, as well as those in other coastal areas. Power cuts were also reported. Initial estimates pegged economic losses from the storm at Rs 70-80 crore. Government officials said the figure was expected to rise.

After causing floods in Sri Lanka, the cyclone started moving towards the Indian coast. This morning, it was about 340 km south-southeast of Chennai, approaching the coastal area with wind speeds of 80-85 km per hour. Nagapattinam, Cuddalore, Chennai and Puducherry reported strong winds, while other regions recorded heavy rains.

Many companies such as Royal Enfield, Sanmar, and Shasun decided to stop operations in their factories on Wednesday. While major power stations were operational, power cuts were reported, as transmission networks were affected. The (SEZ), many government offices and the Madras High Court were closed after lunch. However, public transportation remained operational.

“As precautionary measures, we have asked schools and industrial houses in coastal areas to remain closed and the state government has declared a holiday for schools and colleges in coastal districts,” said a government official. Earlier, the matter was discussed at a meeting held at the secretariat in Chennai.

The coastal districts of Nagapattinam and Cuddalore, as well as coastal areas in Andhra Pradesh, have reported damage to crops such as paddy, groundnut and maize.

Industries shut
Royal Enfield’s Thiruvottiyur unit was shut on Wednesday. “We should open tomorrow,” said a company spokesperson. said its facility at Ennore was operational till 2 pm. However, the company decided not to run operations in the night shift. Both companies declined to specify losses due to the halt in production.

Shashun Chemicals Managing Director S Abhaya Kumar said only critical operations were being run at the company’s facilities at Cuddalore and Puducherry, adding production was affected due to high wind speeds and heavy rain. Since Chennai Port was closed, all shiners had been affected. “It is a grim situation, if production is hit, it is equivalent to a Rs 2-crore sales loss,” Kumar said.

The SEZ at Siruseri in Kanchipuram district, home to companies such as Cognizant, Syntel, TCS and Hexaware, decided to stop operations after 2 pm. About 1,00,000 work at the SEZ. It was expected Siruseri, two to three kms from the east coast, would be a crossing point for Nilam.

Industry representatives said the storm wouldn’t lead to any major revenue loss. As many companies stopped operations after 2 pm, losses in terms of man-hours would be four to five hours, and this could be compensated by working extra hours in the coming days, they said. Besides, some of the companies have also asked employees to work from home, they added.

Kalpakkam atomic power station safe
K Ramamurthy, station director, Madras Atomic Power Station at Kalpakkam near Chennai, said both were operating safely. As Kalpakkam was a coastal area, all structures and equipment at the plant were designed to withstand wind speeds of up to 160 km an hour. The plant is located on the coast and it was expected this would be a crossover area for Nilam.

Operations at the Chennai and Ennore ports came to a halt. Ten vessels at the Chennai port were moved to the anchorage point, port officials said.

On Wednesday, Prathibha Cauvery, an Indian flag vessel, ran aground, following high wind speeds. The vessel had 37 crew on board and was at the outer anchorage since yesterday afternoon.

Fishing hit
Fishing activity in the coastal districts have been severely hit since the last three days.

P Justin Antony, founder president, Tamil Nadu Fishermen Development Trust, said there were 591 villages across 13 fishing districts in the state. For about 9,15,000 people, fishing was the only means of livelihood, he added.

The majority of them had taken up deep sea fishing, as the income in this segment was high. These fishermen ventured out into the sea for periods of 10-15 days.

“We are worried about their lives,” Antony said.

If fishing activities across the state came to a halt, losses would stand at Rs 15-20 crore a day. The state has about 6,728 mechanised boats and 56,792 non-mechanised ones.

First Published: Thu, November 01 2012. 00:29 IST