Intl desk, June 03: Severe cyclonic storm Nisarga – the second to strike India in two weeks – made landfall on the Maharashtra coast near Alibaugh at around 1 pm amid heavy rain.This will be the first such storm to impact coronavirus-hit Mumbai, which has reported over 41,000 COVID-19 cases so far, in over 100 years, NDTV reported.
No one is allowed to come out in public places like beaches, parks and promenades along the Mumbai coastline, the police said in a late-night order. Maharashtra, Gujarat, Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli have been put on high alert as some parts of these two states and the union territories fall on the path of the cyclone that developed over a low pressure area over the Arabian Sea.
Cyclone Nisarga made landfall this afternoon near Alibaug, about 100 km from Mumbai, SN Pradhan, the chief of NDRF (National Disaster Response Force), tweeted. “As Predicted #CycloneNisarga has fully landed near Alibaug,Raigad Dist of Maharashtra (sic),” he posted along with some clips that show trees swaying amid strong winds and heavy rain. The landfall process was completed in less than an hour .
The tropical storm is expected to have wind speeds in excess of 100 km per hour, with gusts up to 120 km per hour. The Met department has also warned of one to two metre-high (three to 6.5 feet) storm surges inundating low-lying areas of Maharashtra.
Forty-three teams of National Disaster Response Force or NDRF have been deployed in areas expected to be affected along Maharashtra and Gujarat coasts. One NDRF team consists of 45 personnel. “The evacuation is nearly complete. Those in shelters are being trained for life skills and social distancing is being ensured. All preparations are in order. Let’s hope we safely ride through the cyclone,” NDRF chief SN Pradhan said in a video message this afternoon.
In Maharashtra, more than 19,000 people have been moved to safety. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday appealed to the people of the state to “stay indoors”. “The cyclone could be more severe than the ones the state has faced till now,” Mr Thackeray said. With over 70,000 COVID-19 cases, the state is the worst-hit in the country by the pandemic.
Mumbai’s civic body Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has put out a list of dos and don’ts for citizens, urging them to stay away from windows, check for gas leaks and keep mobile phones charged. “Dial 1916 and Press 4 for any cyclone-related questions. Ignore rumours, stay calm, don’t panic,” the BMC said. The Banda-Worli sea link in the city has been closed for traffic and rescue teams are on standy near coasts.
Wind speed picked up in coastal areas this morning as the cyclone inched closer. Goa, Ratnagiri, Alibaug, where the landfall was expected, reported heavy rain.
A storm surge – as high as two metres (three to 6.5 feet) above the astronomical tide – will inundate the low-lying coastal areas of Mumbai, Thane and Raigad districts during the landfall, the weather department has said. Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s Office (CMO) on Tuesday listed some of the measures that were being taken. These included evacuating those staying in thatched huts. Non-COVID-19 hospitals have been instructed to prepare for any medical emergencies.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday tweeted: “Took stock of the situation in the wake of cyclone conditions in parts of India’s western coast. Praying for everyone’s well-being. I urge people to take all possible precautions and safety measures (sic)”. In a tweet, his office later said that PM Modi spoke to Maharashtra Chief Minster Uddhav Thackeray, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, assuring all possible help from the centre.
The civil aviation regulator – Directorate General of Civil Aviation or DGCA – on Tuesday cautioned airlines about the dangers of operating during monsoon and stormy conditions. Air and rail traffic has been disrupted due to the storm.
Cyclone Nisarga will be the second to strike India’s coasts in nearly than two weeks. Last month Cyclone Amphan, one of the worst storms to have formed over the Bay of Bengal in recent years, struck Bengal and parts of Odisha, killing nearly 100 people and affecting lakhs. Bengal Chief Minister estimated the damage done at Rs 1 lakh crore.