Gujarat begins evacuation of people as cyclone ‘Vayu’ nears coast

It is expected to make a landfall near Veraval in Gir Somnath district

In view of cyclonic storm ‘Vayu’ that is expected to hit the coastal areas of Gujarat on Thursday, the State authorities have begun evacuation of people from low lying or vulnerable areas in the coastal districts.

Around 3 lakh people from Gujarat and the Union Territory of Diu will be shifted to the more than 700 shelters set up by the authorities.

“Evacuation of people from low lying/vulnerable areas in the coastal areas of Saurashtra and Kutch to safe shelters is going on since early morning. Urging people to cooperate with administration,” said Pankaj Kumar, Additional Chief Secretary (Revenue) in Gujarat.

The State government has deployed 36 National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams, which will reach their respective areas on Wednesday. In all, 34 teams of Army, two BSF teams, and units of the Air Force, the Navy and the Coast Guard have been put on standby mode.

‘Vayu’ has intensified into a severe cyclonic storm, forcing authorities to put Gujarat on a high alert. The State authorities have ordered the closure of schools for three days in coastal districts, deployed NDRF teams and asked fishermen to return to the coast. The government has also advised fishermen against venturing into the sea in the next few days while ports have been directed to flag a danger signal.

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) on Tuesday evening said that the speed of ‘Vayu’ has increased to 17 km per hour and is located in the Arabian Sea, about 350 km west-northwest of Goa, 410 km south-southwest of Mumbai and 530 km nearly south of Veraval in Gujarat.

“It is very likely to move nearly northwards and cross the Gujarat coast between Porbandar and Mahuva around Veraval and Diu region as a severe cyclonic storm with wind speed 110-120 km per hour gusting to 135 km per hour during early morning of June 13,” according to IMD officials on Tuesday.

The cyclone is expected to make a landfall near Veraval in Gir Somnath district on June 13, and it will be preceded by heavy rainfall in isolated places.

There has been rain in some coastal areas of South Gujarat and isolated places in Saurashtra while wind speed has also received increased.

“June 13 and 14 are crucial for us. We have roped in the Army, the NDRF, the Coast Guard and other agencies for rescue and relief work. We will start shifting people living in coastal areas to safer locations,” Chief Minister Vijay Rupani told mediapersons here on Tuesday.

Cabinet meet cancelled

The government also cancelled Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting and directed all Ministers to oversee preparations by administration in coastal districts.

After a review meet with District Collectors and other officials, Additional Chief Secretary (Revenue) Pankaj Kumar said schools, colleges and Anganwadis in coastal districts would remain closed on June 12 and 13.

The State-wide school enrolment drive scheduled for June 13-14, during which all Ministers, legislators and top bureaucrats would enrol children at schools in their respective areas, has been cancelled.

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