With Cyclone Amphan circling over Bay of Bengal, Odisha to shift migrants away from coast

With the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) predicting that cyclonic storm Amphan is likely to make landfall somewhere between the North Odisha coast and West Bengal by May 20, Odisha on Saturday announced that it will shift migrant workers lodged in various quarantine centres near the coast to safer places.

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“Saving of lives is our priority. We should put our best efforts to save every precious human life,” Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik said.

IMD director general Mrityunjay Mohapatra said the depression over Southeast Bay of Bengal lay centred 1,040 km south of Paradip and had intensified into a cyclonic storm on Saturday evening and may intensify further into a severe cyclonic storm in another 24 hours.

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ALSO READ | Cyclone Amphan to hit Odisha, WB

Cyclone Amphan will recurve north northwestwards across northwest Bay of Bengal towards West Bengal and adjoining Odisha coasts during May 18 to 20. “The exact place of landfall of the cyclone would be known by Sunday,” he said. The system is now moving at 20 km per hour. Under its impact, rain will start in coastal Odisha by May 18 evening and by May 19, northern coastal Odisha will receive very heavy rainfall.

The cyclonic storm is likely to affect around 7 lakh people in 649 villages along the sea coast. Special relief commissioner Pradeep Jena said Odisha is working towards ensuring ‘zero casualty’ and district collectors have been asked to conduct vulnerability analysis in view of the summer cyclone.

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There are 809 cyclone shelters in 12 districts expected to be affected by the cyclonic storm, of which 242 are being used as quarantine centres. Jena said the rest 567 cyclone shelters and 7,092 more buildings would be used to keep the evacuated people

ALSO READ | NDRF deploys teams in Odisha and Bengal as Cyclone Amphan closes in

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As the cyclonic storm is likely to affect the four coastal districts of Balasore, Bhadrak, Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur, additional chief secretary of health department, Pradipta Mohapatra said instructions have been issued to shift the migrant labourers staying in quarantine centres within 3 km of the coastline in the districts.

Mohapatra said all hospitals in the state have been asked to ensure adequate stock of medicines including anti-snake venom, ORS and other equipment. “The state government is ready to combat any situation arising out of Cyclone Amphan even though the focus of the entire machinery is on dealing with the Covid-19 challenge,” he said.

So far, 1.33 lakh migrant workers have returned to Odisha from other states through bus, train and other arrangements. Ganjam, the epicenter of Covid-19 in Odisha has so far seen 55,567 migrants returning followed by Balasore (11368), Cuttack (8198), Kendrapara (7457) and Bhadrak (7273). Odisha has urged the Centre to suspend ‘Shramik Special’ trains for 3-4 days to districts which are expected to be affected by the cyclonic storm.

Meanwhile, director general of NDRF, Satya Narayan Pradhan said each of the 4 teams have been sent to the four coastal Odisha districts of Balasore, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara and Bhadrak that are likely to be affected by the cyclone. Another 20 NDRF teams have been kept on standby. In view of the impending cyclone, Eastern Naval Command has assumed a high degree of readiness to render necessary humanitarian assistance. Indian Naval ships at Visakhapatnam are standing-by to proceed to the most affected areas for evacuation and to provide medical aid.

The special relief commissioner said the collectors in all the coastal districts have been asked to ensure that the diesel generator sets, inflatable tower lights, telescopic tower lights, chain saws given to multipurpose cyclone shelters be in operational readiness. He said 335 teams of the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force and state fire units will be sent to the districts likely to be affected by the cyclone.

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