After leaving a trail of destruction in the southern coast of the country, Cyclone Ockhi is expected to make landfall in coastal regions of the state — south Gujarat and Saurashtra— on Tuesday midnight with squally winds, which may cause heavy rains in several parts of the state during the next two days. An India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecast said, “The severe cyclonic storm Ockhi is now laid centred about 850 km south-southwest of Surat and is likely to cross south Gujarat and adjoining north Maharashtra coasts near Surat as a deep depression by mid-night of December 5.”
The IMD bulletin stated, “The very severe cyclonic storm Ockhi over East-Central Arabian Sea moved further North-North Eastwards with a speed of 13 kmph during past six hours and lay centred at Monday afternoon over East-Central Arabian Sea (near Latitude 15.2º N and Longitude 69.0º E) about 590 km Southwest of Mumbai and 770 km South-Southwest of Surat. It is very likely to continue to move north-North-Eastwards, weaken gradually and cross South Gujarat and adjoining north Maharashtra coasts near Surat as a deep depression by December 5 night.”
In the wake of the prediction, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Monday held a review meeting to take stock of the situation where he instructed the administration to stay on alert to ensure that the cyclone and subsequent rains do not affect the crops. State Chief Secretary J N Singh also met the State Disaster Management Group in Gandhinagar where he briefed the district administrations on preparedness against the cyclone.
Pankaj Kumar, principal secretary of the Revenue Department briefed the meeting about the precautionary planning by various government departments to ensure minimum damage. In an official release Kumar stated that NDRF teams have been deployed at Surat, Navsari and Rajkot. The release stated, “Since Sunday, state administration has been on high alert. The administration of districts on the coastal areas have been directed to set up a 24 hour control room. Though the IMD department has stated that by the time Ockhi will hit Gujarat’s coastal areas, its intensity will be reduced but a situation of deep depression or depression will be witnessed.”
Kumar said, “According to the IMD forecast, Cyclone Ockhi would enter south Gujarat tomorrow midnight. This will impact the coastal areas from Umargam (in south Gujarat) till Gir Somnath district (in Saurashtra). We have directed local civic officials as well as the collectors to be prepared and take all necessary steps for the safety of people.”
In view of the cyclone, the Ro-Ro ferry services between Ghogha and Dahej have been suspended with immediate effect. The Gujarat Maritime Board has advised Indigo Seaways, the ferry operators, to suspend the ferry services. The situation will be reviewed on Tuesday evening and if conditions are found favourable, the services would be resumed from December 6,2017.
Valsad, Surat, Navsari, Dangs, Bharuch and Tapi in south Gujarat and Amreli, Gir-Somnath, Bhavnagar and Diu and Daman and Dadra Nagar Haveli in Saurashtra are expected to experience heavy rainfall while light to moderate rainfall is expected over north Gujarat region on December 6.
The IMD has warned that these areas are expected to be affected the most by the cyclone with a 50-60 km per hour wind speed. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narednra Modi said the BJP governments at the Centre and in Gujarat are prepared to tackle the situation when Cyclone Ockhi hits coastal Gujarat. He said, “We are ready to ensure that the impact is minimum. The government machinery is preparing for this.”