The Super Cyclone ‘Amphan’ weakened into a ‘severe cyclonic storm’ over the Bay of West-Central Bengal on Tuesday, moving towards Indian coasts in West Bengal and Odisha. But still, there is a possibility of heavy destruction in the coastal areas of West Bengal and Odisha. The storm is expected to hit the coast on Wednesday afternoon. Rains have already started in many areas of Bengal and Odisha. The Assam government has also declared a high alert in view of the storm.
Officials said that lakhs of people have been evacuated from at-risk areas in West Bengal and Odisha to safer places due to the storm. Both states are on high alert as high winds are blowing due to the cyclone and rains have occurred in many areas of Odisha. The Indian Meteorological Department’s bulletin said that the cyclone is centered around 520 km south of Paradeep in Odisha and 670 km south-southwest of Digha in West Bengal over the Bay of West-Central Bengal. It is moving towards north-northwest direction at a speed of 14 kilometers per hour.
Three lakh people were evacuated to safer places
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that nearly three lakh people have been evacuated from the coastal areas of the state to safer places. Odisha is also ready to evacuate about 11 lakh people living in at-risk areas. The process has already started and many people have been sent to the cyclone centers. The North and South 24 Parganas in West Bengal, East Midnapore district and the ecologically sensitive Sundarbans are at serious risk of high water flow and loss of life and property.
On the other hand, officials in New Delhi said that Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and assured them of all possible help in dealing with the situation. Amphan was transformed into a super cyclone on Monday by a very severe cyclonic storm. As the cyclone moved towards the Indian coastline, its impact was felt in the Puri, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, and Khurda districts of Odisha where winds and rain fell.
Winds can run at a speed of 180 km
Meteorologists have said that ‘Amphan’ can pass through West Bengal-Bangladesh coasts between Digha in West Bengal and Hatia Island in Bangladesh in the form of a very severe cyclonic storm afternoon on 20 May. Before hitting the shores, its intensity will be less and the wind speed will remain constant at 155 to 165 kmph, which can hold a speed of 180 km per hour in between.
Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, director of the science department, said that as the cyclone is gradually weakening, its impact in Odisha is unlikely to be much. He said that although coastal districts like Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak, and Balasore are expected to receive heavy rains and strong winds from Tuesday evening.
Ban on the movement of ships
The National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) headed by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba also held a review meeting on Tuesday. It has reviewed the preparedness of the state, central ministries, and agencies in dealing with cyclonic storms. The Kolkata Port Trust (KOPT) has halted the movement of ships on its dock, alerting the sailors to the danger. The Department of Telecommunications has set up a control room to remove interruptions and bottlenecks in the communication network during the storm and for better management of the network, which will operate 24 hours.
National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) chief S.N. Pradhan said that a total of 41 teams of the force have been deployed in West Bengal and Odisha to deal with any emergency arising out of ‘Amphan’. 15 NDRF teams have been deployed in seven districts of Odisha and five teams have been kept ready while 19 teams have been deployed in six districts of West Bengal while two teams have been kept ready.
In the event of any damage to the power supply infrastructure, the Union Ministry of Power has created an emergency restoration system in Odisha. Apart from this, a reserve has been kept on a large scale to restore the energy system to the employees in an emergency.