Severe cyclonic storm ‘Vayu’ is expected to make landfall on Gujarat coast early on June 13, even as its effects will be witnessed from June 12 midnight. The state is on high alert with the government making all possible arrangements with a mission of “zero tolerance and zero casualty”.
According to India Meteorological Department (IMD), Vayu is expected to touch the Gujarat coast between Porbandar and Mahuva (Bhavnagar district) around Veraval (Gir Somnath) and Diu region as a severe cyclonic storm with wind speed of 110-120 kmph gusting to 135 kmph on the morning of June 13. It is likely to cause heavy rainfall in the 11 coastal districts, along with storm surge, which may cause inundation in the low-lying areas of Dwarka, Porbandar, Junagarh, Gir Somnath, Amreli and Bhavnagar districts, besides Diu.
“The cyclonic storm is very likely to make landfall early on June 13, but the effects will be witnessed in the coastal areas from June 12 midnight,” said IMD Regional Additional Director Manorama Mohanty. The IMD has issued a warning of a “storm surge” of a height of about 0.5 m above the astronomical tides.
The cyclone is likely to affect severely Gir Somnath, Amreli, Bhavnagar, Junagadh and Porbandar districts, while there will be partial effects in the other coastal districts of Devbhoomi Dwarka, Jamnagar and Kutch. Officials said that more than two lakh people in these eight districts are likely to be affected.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday chaired a high-level meeting over preparations for cyclone Vayu. Following the meeting, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued detailed advisories to Gujarat and the union territory of Diu to take all precautionary measures with a view to ensure that no human life is lost, damage to vital infrastructure is minimised and ensure early recovery of all essential services post cyclone landfall.
“Union Home Secretary will take a review meeting on June 12 with the Central Ministries/Agencies and Chief Secretary/Adviser of Gujarat and Diu,” said an MHA statement.
Cyclone Vayu: Cue from Odisha
Gujarat Chief Secretary J N Singh contacted his Odisha counterpart Aditya Prasad Padhi Tuesday morning to discuss the preparedness of the state government ahead of cyclone Fani.
“The intensity of both Vayu and Fani differs hugely. Vayu is expected to be a lower-intensity storm with a wind speed of around 100-135 kmph, while Fani had hit with a speed of 200-235 kmph,” Chief Secretary Singh told The Indian Express. Singh also held a review meeting Tuesday morning through a videoconference with the collectors of all 11 coastal districts of Gujarat.
Cyclone Vayu: Three lakh may be evacuated
Gujarat and Diu administrations have planned to evacuate about three lakh people from the identified vulnerable areas starting early on June 12, an MHA official said.
“The evacuated people will be shifted to around 700 cyclone/relief shelters. In consultation with the state administration, 39 NDRF (National Disaster Response Force) teams are being pre-positioned in Gujarat and Diu for helping in evacuation, search, rescue and relief operations. In addition, 34 teams of Army are also on stand-by,” an MHA statement said.
In Gujarat, 35 NDRF teams, which includes 20 teams that have been moved from Pune and Bhatinda, along with 11 State Disaster Response Force teams have been put on high alert.
The state government said that evacuation will start with over 80,000 people from low-lying and coastal areas from June 12 morning. As a precautionary measure, all schools and colleges in the 11 coastal districts will remain closed on June 12 and 13 and if necessary the holidays will be extended further.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani also postponed the statewide annual school enrollment drive, Shala Praveshotsav 2.0, scheduled from June 13 to 15.
Cyclone Vayu: High-level meet by CM
During a high-level meeting chaired by the CM, along with his deputy Nitin Patel on Tuesday evening, it was decided to appeal to tourists visiting Somnath, Dwarka, Porbanadar and the coastal areas to immediately return to safer locations. Also if necessary, special state transport buses will be arranged for them on request. Over five lakh food packets are being prepared and more than 100 de-watering pumps being arranged.
Cyclone Vayu: Awareness on safety
The review meeting chaired by the chief secretary also included discussions on spreading awareness about safety. The IMD has suggested a total suspension of fishing operations, asked people to remain indoors and said that movement in motor boats will be unsafe.
DB Rahevar, in-charge collector of Gir Somnath, told The Indian Express, that 51 villages and four municipality towns — Veraval, Sutrapada, Kodinar and Una — are likely to be affected. “We have identified 110 buildings, mostly primary schools and community halls, as cyclone shelters.”
Amreli district Collector Ayush Oak said Rajula and Jafrabad talukas are likely to be worst-affected. “In all, 23 villages and two towns with a population of 96,300 are likely to be affected. Out of them, we may require to shift 18,000 to safer places. We have identified 37 buildings as cyclone shelters. We have sent SMS alerts to 1.5 lakh people and 2.5 lakh more will be sent tonight (Tuesday). Our officials are visiting villages and telling people to remain alert and cooperate with evacuation operations, if required,” Oak said.
“We have also formed 86 medical teams and pregnant women are being shifted to safer places. We have deployed road-clearance teams at a distance of 10 km each on main roads to remove trees that my fall due to squally winds,” Oak added.
Bhavnagar district collector Harshad Patel said that 43 villages of Mahuva taluka were likely to be affected. “We have sent teams to these villages with loudspeakers to alert people. Activities at Alang ship recycling yard will remain suspended on Wednesday and Thursday,” said Patel.
Porbandar district collector said that they had identified 238 buildings as cyclone shelters.
In Dwarkda district, Collector Narendra Kumar Meena said that all the fishermen with their 5,000 boats have returned to the shore. “The fishing season got over on Monday. However, fishermen living in low-lying areas of Rupen harbour and Okha may require to be moved to safer places, if there is very high tide in the sea, coupled with heavy rainfall,” he said.
During the review meeting chaired by the CS, it was also decided that a joint team of the departments of roads and buildings, forest and electricity will work together after the cyclone.
National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) also met on Tuesday under the chairmanship of Cabinet Secretary Pradeep Kumar Sinha. Chief Secretary of Gujarat and Advisor to Administrator, Daman and Diu, apprised the NCMC of the preparatory measures put in place. Senior officials of MHA, shipping, railways, power, telecommunications, defence, fisheries, IMD, NDMA and NDRF also attended the meeting.