All 20 units of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) stationed in Odisha have been deployed in the state, while as many units have been pressed into service in West Bengal for relief and rescue efforts in the wake of Cyclone Amphan, NDRF Director General SN Pradhan said on Wednesday.
Addressing a press conference, Pradhan said they are keeping a close watch on the "fast transforming" situation, and 24 teams from six battalions across the country are on standby.
The NDRF chief said its teams have to now function keeping in mind the COVID-19 threat and are equipped with personal protective equipment (PPE).
Over five lakh people have been evacuated in West Bengal while over 1.58 lakh have been taken to safety in Odisha, Pradhan said quoting data provided by the state governments,
He said 20 teams have been deployed in West Bengal, including one team for urban areas of Kolkata, while another unit has been kept in reserve.
The DG said all 20 teams present in Odisha have been deployed leaving none in reserve.
An NDRF team comprises around 45 personnel
"The situation is fast-transforming. It is a long haul. The duty of NDRF and other agencies does not end with landfall of the cyclone. Work actually begins after landfall in the form of relief and restoration," he said.
In Odisha, six teams have been deployed in Balasore, four each in Jagatsinghpur and Bhadrak, three in Kendrapada, and one each in Mayurbhanj, Jajpur and Puri, he said.
In West Bengal, among the districts most likely to be affected six teams have been deployed in 24 Parganas (South) and four in Medinipur (East) and three each in 24 Parganas (North) and Rajarhat.
"In areas where there is high pressure, four and above teams are deployed. Both states have NDRF battalions with Odisha commandant camping in Balasore while West Bengal commandant is camping in Kakdwip in 24 Parganas (South) which is on the route of the cyclone," he said.
The DG said 24 teams from six battalions across the country are on standby. "They are ready and can be airlifted within 15 minutes. They may not be necessarily needed during the cyclone but during relief and restoration process," he said.
He said the NDRF Headquarters and local commandants are working in coordination with the respective state authorities.
"All teams have wireless and satellite communications. We are not dependent on any communication system.
"It is another form of new normal, we have to handle disasters be it cyclone or floods during upcoming monsoon season considering COVID too. In view of the prevailing COVID-19 scenario, all teams are equipped with PPE,"he said.
"Based on experiences during Cyclone FANI, all the teams are equipped with tree cutters/ pole cutters for post landfall restoration, if the need arises," he said.
Extremely severe cyclonic storm 'Amphan' made a landfall at around 2.30 PM on Wednesday between Digha in West Bengal and Hatiya island in Bangladesh, the meteorological department said.
The landfall process, triggering copious rain and gusty winds, will continue for about four hours.
"The forward sector of the wall cloud region is entering into land in West Bengal. The intensity of the cyclone near its centre as the landfall process started was recorded at 160-170 kmph, gusting to 190 kmph," the weathermansaid.
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