Odisha, Bengal grapple with evacuation ahead of cyclone Yaas
As the storm system Yaas heads towards the north Odisha-West Bengal coast, several thousand people are set to be cleared out from the coastal districts of both the States. Officials of the Regional Meteorological Centre (RMC) in Kolkata said on Monday that the very acute cyclonic storm will make landfall by Wednesday.
G.K. Das, Deputy Director and head of the RMC, said, “The cyclone will cross on May 26 noon as a very acute cyclonic storm. It is likely to make landfall between the Paradip Coast in Odisha and Sagar Island in West Bengal, near to Balasore in Odisha.”
Mr. Das predicted that at the time of landfall, wind speed in the districts of north Odisha and Purba Medinpur in West Bengal would be near about 155 to 165 kmph, gusting at 185 kmph.
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee said the State was in the process of evacuating about 10 lakh people to cyclone shelters. “We have about 4,000 cyclone shelters, where people who are being evacuated will be given cover to minimise the loss of lives. Twenty of the 23 districts will be affected by Yaas Cyclone.”
“We have kept stock of aid materials at blocks. Control rooms are working round the clock in districts, blocks and even in municipalities,” Ms. Banerjee specified. The Chief Minister said power back-up had been provided at hospitals. About 51 teams of the State Disaster Response Force had been posted at several strategic spots in the State.
The coastal areas of the State, including Kolkata, observed rainfall, accompanied by gusty winds, since Sunday evening. The India Meteorological Department IMD has predicted heavy rainfall in the coastal areas of the State on May 25.
The Indian Coast Guard has deployed 16 ships and 3 aircraft a day on an average across the deep waters of the Bay of Bengal and along the coastline areas. As a part of preventive measures, it has ensured the safe return of 254 boats that were out at sea and alerted various merchant vessels in transit and 77 vessels at harbourage till today.
Over a dozen of teams of the National Disaster Response Force have been posted in the coastal areas of the State. Its officials put a meeting with senior officers of the Kolkata police during the day.
The Odisha government said it had mobilised disaster response forces and evacuated people from low-lying regions ahead of the cyclone. However, the government is facing twin challenge of shifting large number of people to safer places and following COVID-19 guidelines. Additional cyclone covers have been identified for COVID-19 patients.