Update at 7:00 am: A Press release issued by IMD: Cyclone Warning for Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coast:
Update at 7:00 am: What we know so far:
Update at 7:00 am: Districts on alert
Between Cuddalore and Pamban, the cyclonic storm 'Gaja' is set to make landfall on Thursday evening bringing heavy rainfall to Tamil Nadu with a wind speed gusting up to 100 kmph, the Met office said. The cyclonic storm 'Gaja' over the Bay of Bengal lay at about 470 km southeast.
With the Tamil Nadu government already declaring that 30,500 rescue personnel were on standby, the district collectors of Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, Pudukottai, Nagapattinam, Cuddalore and Ramanathapuram have declared a holiday for schools and colleges on Thursday.
All educational institutions in Puducherry and Karaikal regions would remain closed tomorrow in view of the cyclone.
Against the backdrop of the Central Water Commission advising constant vigil over dams, Tamil Nadu Revenue Minister R B Udayakumar told reporters that dams, lakes and rivers channels were being monitored continuously.
The CWC had advised action as per the Standard Operating Procedure as heavy rainfall in catchment areas could fill up the dams fast in less than 24 hours.
The Minister said mobile operators have assured to move 'Cell on Wheels,' mobile platforms to provide uninterrupted mobile connectivity to Nagapattinam and Cuddalore districts which are likely to witness the cyclone impact during landfall.
The government has also held discussions with oil marketing companies and they have been advised to maintain sufficient fuel stock, he said. While reiterating caution to fishermen to not venture into the sea, Udayakumar said a comprehensive list of do's and don'ts have been circulated to the people on cyclone eve.
The red column in the Met bulletins only indicate that steps to mitigate possible disaster should be taken by the government which has already been done and people should not panic, he underlined.
The Met office had warned storm surge of about 1.0 metres likely to inundate low-lying areas of Nagapattinam, Thanjavur, Pudukkottai and Ramanathapuram districts of Tamil Nadu and Karaikal district of Puducherry at the time of landfall.
The IMD also cautioned about major damage to thatched huts.
"Roof tops may blow off," and communication and power lines may be affected it had said adding standing crops could also be hit besides water intrusion in low lying areas.