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Bengal, Odisha brace for third cyclone of year with evacuation & early harvest

The Meteorological Department said the cylcone may not affect West Bengal, but predicted torrential rain in some parts on December 4-6.

By: Express News Service | Bhubaneswar, Kolkata |
December 3, 2021 3:18:39 am
According to the regional meteorological department, the low-pressure area forming in the south Andaman Sea will intensify into a depression and move towards the Odisha coast as a cyclonic storm on December 4 and later to West Bengal. (File)

With south Bengal bracing for torrential rain induced by Cyclone Jawad over the weekend, the state government has started evacuating people from coastal districts. This is the third cyclone hitting the region this year.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday reviewed cyclone preparedness in a meeting with Chief Secretary Hari Krishna Dwivedi, Home Secretary Bhagabati Prasad Gopalika, Acting Director General of Police Monoj Malabya and other officials. Following this, Dwivedi chaired a meeting with district officials concerned.

“About 11,000 people living in low-lying areas will be shifted from their residences as a precautionary measure,” a senior official said.

In neighbouring Odisha, farmers are resorting to an early harvest and distress sale of paddy. Jawad is likely to make landfall on December 4.

According to the regional meteorological department, the low-pressure area forming in the south Andaman Sea will intensify into a depression and move towards the Odisha coast as a cyclonic storm on December 4 and later to West Bengal.

All tourists in coastal districts of Bengal have been advised to return from these locations. District administrations have been directed to restrict tourist movements on beaches.

The South Eastern Railway has cancelled 49 trains till Monday due to the cyclone.
Fishermen have been advised not to venture into the sea till Sunday. “Fishermen are advised not to venture into the sea from December 3-5, 2021. Fishermen out at sea are advised to return to the coast by the morning of December 2,” a Met official had earlier said.

Six battalions of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were deployed in coastal districts. The chief secretary asked all district officials to store sufficient dry foods.

The Meteorological Department said the cylcone may not affect West Bengal, but predicted torrential rain in some parts on December 4-6.

Under the influence of Jawad, heavy to very heavy rain is likely in East Midnapore, West Midnapore, North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas, Jhargram and Howrah.

Thunderstorm with wind gusting at 30-40 kmph is predicted over North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas, East and West Midnapore, Jhargram and Howrah districts on December 4-6. The speed may increase to 40 to 50 kmph on Sunday, affecting Kolkata, the Met department stated.

Areas adjoining the sea may experience wind at 60 to 70 kmph gusting up to 80 kmph.

“Advisory to along and offshore Installations: The off-shore & alongshore operations are advised to be judiciously regulated on December 3 and to be suspended on December 4, 2021, to ensure safety of life and property,” said the weather statement.

Meanwhile, dejected by adverse weather conditions, Odisha farmers are preparing to harvest paddy towards mid-December as mandis are slated to open towards the end of the month. “First Yaas, then unseasonal rains in the pre-harvest season and now another cyclonic storm, we have hardly had time to recover from each setback…Paddy is yet to ripen completely but we are forced to harvest it early,” Debendra Rout, a native of Churmura village in Jaleswar block of Balasore district, said.

In Sohoda village of Bhadrak district which is prone to flooding, farmer Milin Das said, “Back to back crop damage will leave us with heavy debts. We will not be able to repay our loans if the damages are not assessed properly. Recurrent cyclones have made the soil saline… incessant and unseasonal rains led to major flooding. The produce this year has been nearly 40 per cent lesser than usual.”

In 2021, the state has experienced five low-pressure systems, four well-marked low-pressure systems, one deep depression, and one cyclonic storm between June and September, leading to heavy rainfall and floods even in the western and southwestern districts which are relatively far from the coast. In May, the eastern coast was battered by Cyclone Yaas which affected 10,644 villages across 11 districts of the state and impacted 6348.4 hectares of farmland.

In Ganjam and Gajapati districts bordering Andhra Pradesh, farmers have resorted to distress sale of paddy to avoid losses. Shanker Dakwa of Pandiripada village in Ganjam said, “We either let the crops stand and be destroyed or harvest them prematurely. But even after harvest, there’s no guarantee that heavy winds and rain will not destroy them. Storage is not an option for many farmers so it is best to sell it wherever we can.”

For the current year, the government has set the paddy procurement price at Rs 1,940 per quintal. However, farmers are resorting to selling their produce at Rs 900-1000 per quintal, incurring losses.

The state government has issued an advisory to farmers to harvest 85 per cent ripe paddy. Chief District Agriculture Officer, Balasore, Nikunja Kishore Rout said only 25 per cent of paddy crops have been harvested across 12 blocks in the district. “We have advised farmers to harvest the crop at the earliest,” he said.

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