Public Holiday in Tamil Nadu Today as State Braces for Cyclone Nivar, 1,200 Rescue Personnel Deployed

Cyclone Nivar is expected to intensify into a “very severe cyclonic storm” and cross Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coasts between Karaikal and Mamallapuram late in the evening of November 25, India Meteorological Department (IMD) Director General Mrutunjay Mohapatra said on Tuesday. Tamil Nadu has declared a public holiday on Wednesday while Puducherry has imposed Section 144 for three days.

Nearly 1,200 National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) rescue personnel have been deployed in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry and 800 others are on standby. NDRF chief SN Pradhan said they are prepared for a “high level of intensity and the worst form” of the cyclonic storm as it surges from the Bay of Bengal towards the southern coastline.

The weather department had initially predicted that Cyclone Nivar was likely to intensify into a “severe cyclonic storm” but has now estimated that it will intensify further. Nivar is the second cyclone in the Bay of Bengal this year. In May, Cyclone Amphan had developed into a ‘super cyclonic storm’.

“Our forecast is it will intensify into a very severe cyclonic storm by (Tuesday) tonight. It is very likely to cross Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coasts between Karaikal and Mamallapuram around Puducherry during 25th November late evening as a very severe cyclonic storm with a wind speed of 120-130 km per hour gusting to 145 kmph,” Mohapatra said.

Besides strong winds, the cyclone is also expected to bring heavy rains. The IMD has issued red alert for coastal and north interior Tamilnadu, Puducherry and Karaikal for November 25, said Mohapatra.

“Isolated extremely heavy rainfall activity also very likely over coastal and north interior Tamil Nadu and Puducherry (Pudukottai, Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, Karaikal, Nagapattinam, Cuddalore, Ariyalur and Perabalu districts during 24th and Kadalur, Kallakurchi, Puducherry, Villupuram, Tiruvannamalai, Chengalpattu to Ariyalur, Perambalur and Karaikal districts during 25th) and over Nellore and Chittoor districts of Andhra Pradesh on 25th and over Rayalseema and southeast Telangana on 26th November,” the IMD said.

Mohapatra said there could be serious damage to thatched huts, disruption of power and communication lines, damage to roads, uprooting of trees, and damage to horticulture crops like banana and papaya. The IMD has suggested total suspension of fishing operations and motorboats and small boats, shifting of people residing in coastal areas to safer places, judicious regulation of road, air and rail traffic. He said the IMD will issue hourly updates from November 25 when the cyclone crosses the coast.

NCMC reviews preparedness, assures help to states

The National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) on Tuesday took stock of the status of the “very severe cyclonic storm” Nivar expected to hit coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry on Wednesday, assuring them of all possible help, including the early release of disaster relief fund.

Headed by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, the NCMC also directed all concerned to continue work aiming at zero loss of life and early restoration of normalcy in the affected areas that include power and telecommunications networks, an official spokesperson said.

The NCMC reviewed the status of the impending cyclone at a meeting held through video conferencing with the chief secretaries of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. The chief secretaries of the three states, directors general of IMD and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) briefed the NCMC about their preparedness and mentioned that the authorities are fully prepared to meet any eventuality.

The NCMC was also informed that about 15 districts of the three states are expected to hit by the cyclone and several thousand people living along the coastline have been shifted to shelter houses, the spokesperson said. The cabinet secretary assured the chief secretaries all necessary assistance, and Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla conveyed that the required financial assistance from the National Disaster Relief Fund will be released on Wednesday.

The cabinet secretary also asked everyone to circulate the Do’s and Don’ts to the people living along the coastal areas asking them to stay calm, ignore rumours, keep mobile phones charged, listen to radio, not to enter damaged buildings, leave home for safer places if current house is not secured and switch off the main power connection, among others. The meeting was informed about the coordination between the NDRF and other agencies to meet this challenge.

(With inputs from PTI)

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