Bhubaneswar: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today sought the help of defence forces to meet the imminent crisis even as cyclone ‘Phailin’ further strengthened and moved towards Odisha coast.
“Our past experience indicates that despite the State government’s preparedness, impact of a very severe cyclonic storm requires support of the defence forces to mitigate the effects of extreme weather event,” the CM said in a letter to Defence Minister A K Antony.
Maintaining that defence forces had extended commendable cooperation to the State Government in relief and rescue operations on previous occasions in 2007, 2008 and 2011, Patnaik said the looming cyclone is expected to impact life and property.
“I would request you to kindly consider issuing standing instructions to the defence forces, specially the Air Force and the Navy, to remain in readiness to extend support to the state administration in relief and rescue operation as and when required,” the CM urged.
Meanwhile, the State Government today cancelled puja holidays of its employees in remaining 16 districts. The decision has earlier been implemented in 14 cyclone-prone districts.
The 14 coastal and south Odisha districts where maximum alert has been issued are Balasore, Bhadrak, Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Dhenkanal, Jajpur, Cuttack, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Puri, Khurda, Nayagarh, Ganjam and Gajapati.
According to the latest bulletin issued by Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), the severe cyclonic storm ‘Phailin’ over east central Bay of Bengal moved Northwestwards towards Odisha coast and lay centred about 800 km southeast of Paradip coast.
It would continue to move northwestwards and cross north Andhra Pradesh and Odisha coast between Kalingapatnam and Paradip, close to Gopalpur, by Saturday (October 12) evening as a very severe cyclonic storm with a maximum sustained wind speed of 175-185 kmph, the bulletin said.
Squally winds, speed reaching 45-55 kmph, would commence along and off Odisha coast from Friday (October 11) morning. It would increase in intensity with gale wind, speed reaching 175-185 kmph, along and off coastal districts of south Odisha at the time of landfall.
State of Sea along and off Odisha coast will be rough to very rough from Friday morning and will become phenomenal on Saturday.
While Distant Warning Signal Number Two (DW-II) was kept hoisted at Paradip and Gopalpur ports, the State Government has stepped up preparedness.
Several rounds of meetings were held today to assess the steps being taken for ensuing rescue and relief operations.
While food rations are being dispatched to cyclone centres, schools and other buildings in all likely-to-be-affected regions, evacuation of people from low lying areas would start from Friday morning,
Keeping in view of possible disruption in communication, satellite phones have been provided to district collectors to ensure communication with special relief commissioner Pradipta Mohapatra.
Mohapatra said the Defence ministry has confirmed that some helicopters would be kept ready at Barrackpore in neighbouring West Bengal and would be ready to fly out by Sunday morning. Sources said the Centre is also sending 28 units of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel to the State.
He said Odisha did not have a place to station the helicopters therefore they would fly in from Barrackpore, adding that food packets for about 1 lakh people would be ready before the cyclone’s landfall.
IMD bulletin said storm surge with height of around 1.5-2.0 metre above astronomical tide would inundate low lying areas of Ganjam, Khurda, Puri and Jagatsinghpur districts during landfall.
Emergency helplines have been set up in these districts