Maharashtra and Gujarat on high alert for Cyclone Nisarga, NDRF chief says if handled right there may be zero casualty

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) on Tuesday warned that Cyclone Nisarga could hit north Maharashtra and south Gujarat on Wednesday, bringing severe storm and heavy rain in these areas. The cyclone, which is headed towards Mumbai, Palghar, Alibaug and south Gujarat coast, is rapidly picking up at the speed of 105-115 kmph, which will further increase to 125 kmph on 3 June. The cyclone is the first to strike near Mumbai in more than 100 years.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has spoken to the Chief Ministers of Maharashtra and Gujarat and the administrator of Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and assured all possible support from the centre. Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray too called an emergency cabinet meeting and took review of the situation. Thackeray informed about the adequate relief measures taken up by his government and asked people from Sindhudurg to Mumbai to be prepared. He also requested fishermen to not to go to the sea for the next 4-5 days.

Pune-based IMD scientist Anupam Kashyapi said that due to this cyclone, areas like Thane, Mumbai and Raigad are expected to receive heavy rainfall. Palghar is likely to receive rainfall 20cm of rain per day on 3-4 June. Pune will also see heavy rainfall for the next two days till 4 June.

In wake of the ongoing situation, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has deployed its 10 teams in Mumbai, Ratnagiri, Raigad, Alibaug and Palghar. Talking to The Daily Guardian, NDRF Director General S.N. Pradhan said, “NDRF is deployed in both the states—10 teams are in Maharashtra and 7 team on standby and11 teams are in Gujarat. However, Gujarat has asked for 5 more teams so we are getting them airlifted from Punjab. They should be able to reach Gujarat by late night. More teams are on the standby.”

Pradhan also added, “The Meteorological Department has said the speed will reduce as soon as it moves beyond Maharashtra coast, and if we handle this right, there will be zero casualty.”

In addition to NDRF, Indian Naval Command has also geared up for an emergency response to the situation by putting all its teams on alert. The government has taken over the local schools and colleges for rescue operations in Raigad and red flags have been put up at all the beaches in this district.

If the weather system in the Arabian Sea intensifies into a tropical cyclone, this will be the first cyclonic storm to land on the Maharashtra coast since 1891. Only two weather depressions—one in 1948 and the other in 1980—came close to the coastline but they did not intensify into cyclones.

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