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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Cyclone Tauktae: Mumbai gears up for heavy rain, 580 Covid patients shifted from jumbo units

The BMC on Saturday night shifted 580 patients from BKC (243), Dahisar (183) and Mulund (154) jumbo Covid-19 facilities to state and civic-run hospitals in Mumbai.

Written by Sanjana Bhalerao | Mumbai |
Updated: May 16, 2021 7:51:02 am
Ambulances wait outside BKC jumbo centre to shift patients. (Express Photo by Ganesh Shirsekar)

From shifting 580 patients from its jumbo Covid-19 facilities to contemplating a possible shut down of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in Mumbai on Saturday worked on taking several precautionary measures in view of India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) warning that Cyclone Tauktae is likely to pass close to the city on Sunday.

The BMC on Saturday night shifted 580 patients from BKC (243), Dahisar (183) and Mulund (154) jumbo Covid-19 facilities to state and civic-run hospitals in Mumbai. The civic body had on Friday alerted the hospitals to avoid last-minute confusion over beds and availability of oxygen devices.

The Mumbai Police is exploring the option of shutting down the Bandra-Worli Sea Link, as heavy rain and strong winds are expected to lash the city on Sunday and Monday. “Depending on the situation, following updates from the IMD, the decision to close traffic on the Bandra-Worli Sea Link on Sunday will be taken,” said a police officer. The suburban rail services will run on Sunday and Monday, said officials.

The IMD on Saturday night said that cyclonic storm Tauktae, the first to hit the Indian Coast this year, has intensified into a “severe cyclonic storm” and is heading towards the coast of Gujarat and the Union Territory of Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

It is likely to pass the Mumbai coast late Saturday or early Sunday from a distance, so minimal damage is expected. It will, however, cause gusty winds and heavy rain to hit a few places in Mumbai, Thane and Palghar.

In a review meeting on Saturday morning, the IMD informed BMC that Mumbai is not in the direct line of the threat of the cyclone. However, as it will pass through the sea near the Mumbai coast, its effect is likely to be accompanied by rain and strong winds.

The IMD has issued a yellow alert for Mumbai and Thane on Sunday with forecast of thunderstorms accompanied with lightning/gusty winds and heavy rain likely at isolated places. Heavy to very heavy rain is likely in Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg.

The BMC on Saturday reviewed preparations of the jumbo Covid-19 hospitals and other agencies. It asked hospitals to keep generators and other alternative systems operational in case of a power outage.

It instructed the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited, the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority and the coastal road department to barricade all areas where infrastructure works are in progress. It also identified low-lying areas where dewatering pumps have been set up.

The ward offices were asked to ensure that hoardings do not fall on the road and remove them from wherever necessary. The 24 ward officers were told to be ready with manpower and equipment and prepare shelter homes in case people living near low-lying areas need to be relocated. Disaster control rooms have been activated in all the wards.

The BMC also instructed people not go out of their houses and near the beaches on Sunday and Monday. The fire brigade was asked to deploy rescue squads near six beaches. In 24 hours, BMC has pruned over 384 trees near jumbo or field hospitals.
The IMD in a statement issued at 8.30 pm on Saturday said that the cyclonic storm is very likely to intensify further into a “very severe cyclonic storm” in the next 12 hours. The severe cyclonic storm will further intensify with wind speed of 115-125 kmph gusting up to 140 kmph likely by 5.30 am on Sunday, it added.

It is very likely to move north-northwestwards and cross Gujarat coast between Porbandar and Naliya around May 18 afternoon or evening with wind speed gusting up to 175 kmph, the IMD said.

By Saturday night, the severe cyclonic storm was around 220 km south-southwest of Panjim and 590 km south-southwest of Mumbai, resulting in heavy rainfall, gusty winds and thunderstorms in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts. A dead green sea turtle washed ashore near Harihareshwar beach in Raigad on Saturday morning, due to strong winds in the area.

The Pune-based 5th battalion of the National Disaster Response Force has deployed four teams in Mumbai and Goa. It has also kept 14 more teams on standby, which can be mobilised at a short notice.

At least 97 fishing boats are yet to return to the seashore in Palghar, which is likely to witness strong winds and rain. District collectors of Thane and Palghar asked people, especially those living near the seashores, to be alert.

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