Cyclone 'Maha' is expected to weaken as a cyclonic storm from the severe cyclonic storm before its anticipated landfall on the Gujarat coast between Devbhumi-Dwarka district and Union Territory of Diu in the early hours of November 7, Met officials said on Monday. The state government has requisitioned 15 additional teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) while Naval units are also put on standby. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Monday held a review meeting of ongoing preparations while Union Cabinet Secretary took stock of administrative preparedness through a video conference, they said.
Meteorological Centre officials said the cyclone 'Maha' would weaken into a cyclonic storm before it hits the Gujarat coast between Porbandar and adjoining Union Territory of Diu in the early hours of Thursday. Earlier, it was predicted that 'Maha' would hit the coast as a severe cyclonic storm. Additional Chief Secretary, Revenue, Pankaj Kumar told reporters in Gandhinagar that 15 additional teams of the NDRF are requisitioned and will be deployed along the coastal belt for relief and rescue work.
"15 teams of the NDRF are already in Gujarat. Additional 15 teams would reach the state soon. We have also started deploying State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) teams in the districts. Out of the 12,600 fishing boats which had ventured into the sea, only 600 are left to return. We are making efforts to bring them back as sea condition would be rough in the coming days," Kumar said.
Earlier in the day, Cabinet Secretary took stock of the administrative preparedness in Gujarat through a video conference. Separately, the chief minister, his deputy Nitin Patel and state chief secretary J N Singh held a review meeting with officials. "We are keeping a close watch on low-lying areas, salt pans and thatched houses situated along the coast," said Kumar. Meanwhile, MeT Centre Director Jayanta Sarkar said Maha, classified as the "extremely severe cyclonic storm", is currently centred over the Arabian sea around 650 kms away from Porbandar and 730 kms away from the UT of Diu.
"As per the latest analysis, it would take a re-curve from tomorrow and start moving towards Gujarat coast. However, it will weaken rapidly while coming towards the coast. It will cross the Gujarat coast as a cyclonic storm on November 7, and not as a severe cyclonic storm predicted earlier," he said.
The speed of wind is expected to remain between 80 to 90 kms per hour and not 100 to 110 kmph. The cyclonic storm will bring widespread rains in most parts of Gujarat while some places would receive heavy downpour on November 6 and 7. MeT Centre Deputy Director Manorama said 'Maha' would damage thatched houses, trees and roads along the coast.
"The entire coastal belt from Porbandar in Saurashtra till Surat and Bharuch district of south Gujarat will be impacted by the cyclonic storm," she added.
Extreme weather conditions are also likely to prevail in Amreli, Gir-Somnath, Junagadh, Anand, Ahmedabad, Botad and Rajkot districts. State Agriculture Minister R C Faldu said district officials were directed about the steps to be taken in the wake of the possible impact by Maha. "Ministers would be assigned different districts and they will leave for those districts by Monday evening to oversee the relief operations," he said. Meanwhile, in Surat city, municipal authorities have started removing hoardings as part of precautionary measures. Citizens were also asked not to go near Dumas beach or visit areas near the Tapi river. Devbhumi-Dwarka district Collector N K Meena held a meeting of top officials and instructed them not to leave their assigned places.
Similar exercise was also conducted by authorities of other districts. "Naval units in Gujarat are also on standby to render assistance sought by civil authorities in anticipation of the cyclonic storm Maha making landfall on the state coast," a defence release stated. "The Western Naval Command has also kept four ships of the Western Fleet loaded with HADR material ready to render assistance as and when required. The Naval authorities in Gujarat are in constant liaison with civil authorities in accordance with SOPs to ensure seamless coordination," it added.