With the Indian Meteorological Department forecasting that the cyclone Vayu may cross Kutch district in form of depression on Monday, the district administration on Sunday said that it had put the coastal area of the district on alert and that plans had been put in place to evacuate people.
The latest bulletin from the IMD on Sunday evening stated that severe cyclonic storm Vayu lay centered 490 km west-southwest of Porbandar, 450 km west-southwest of Dwarka and 550 km west-southwest of Bhuj in Kutch district. “The system is very likely to weaken gradually into a cyclonic storm during the next 12 hours and into a deep depression during the subsequent 12 hours. The system is very likely to move slowly northwards during the next six hours and then recurve gradually northeastwards and cross north Gujarat coast by midnight of 17th June 2019 as a depression,” stated the IMD bulletin.
Jayanto Sarkar, director of IMD regional centre in Ahmedabad, said the cyclone was likely to lose steam by the time it would approach Kutch coast. “It was a very severe cyclonic storm which has weakened into a severe cyclonic storm. We expect that it will further weaken into a cyclonic storm and subsequently to deep depression and eventually, into a depression,” he said. “We expect that it will cross north Gujarat coast in Kutch by midnight of June 17. That time, it will be in a much weaker state of deep depression or depression and associated windspeed will be around 45 to 50 kilometre per hour. We are expecting very good rainfall in Kutch and adjoining districts during this period,” Sakar told The Indian Express on Sunday.
Incidentally, Vayu was earlier expected to make a landfall between Veraval and Mahuva on Saurashtra coast on June 13, but it veered from that predicted part and moved westward, skirting Saurashtra coast between Veraval and Okha. Under the influence of the storm, Gir Somnath, Amreli, Junagadh and parts of Porbandar districts had received heavy rainfall on Thursday and Friday and gusty winds had uprooted many trees. In all, the state government had evacuated around 2.75 lakh people from the districts of Saurashtra as a precautionary measure on June 12. However, they were allowed to return to their homes on June 14 afternoon after the cyclonic storm moved farther from the Gujarat coast and government declared the emergency was over.
But with the storm expected to again approach Gujarat coast, Kutch district collector Remya Mohan on Sunday said they had made all preparations to meet any eventuality. “While the wind may not be a big issue, we are told by the IMD to be prepared for heavy rain. As a precautionary measure, we have asked saltpan workers along the coast from Bhachau to Mundra to not go to work as the sea could be rough and can lead to inundating of low lying areas along the coast,” Mohan said.
The collector further said they had already formed teams of officers to keep a watch over the situation locally. “Five teams of NDRF are already in Kutch to help in rescue and relief work and we have also formed teams of our officers. We have prepared plans to evacuate people from vulnerable areas at very short notice if required,” added the officer.
Incidentally, in 2014, cyclone Nilofar was once on course to make landfall at Naliya in Kutch but the border district was spared as the storm dramatically fizzled away before reaching the coast.
Mohan further added that 29,000 people had been evacuated last week when cyclone Vayu threatened to make a landfall between Veraval and Okha. “But all of them have returned to their homes now and survey is on to identify affected people for payment of cash doles declared by the state government,” she said.
Incidentally, Kutch is going through one of the worst droughts this year and rains could ease the situation.
The collector said that airports and seaports in the district were operating normally on Sunday after operations resumed on Friday.