Cyclone Amphan is likely to make landfall in West Bengal as an extremely severe cyclonic storm on Wednesday afternoon. The Indian Metrological Department and National Disaster Response Force have predicted that the cyclone is likely to cause heavy damage in the area.
The IMD has requested the government to suspend all rail and road transport in the affected areas.
“This is the most intense cyclone—the second super cyclone which has been formed in the Bay of Bengal after 1999. Its wind speed in the sea right now is 200-240 kmph. It is moving towards the north-northwestward direction,” IMD chief Mrutyunjay Mohapatra informed the media.
“In West Bengal, the districts which can be possibly affected are North & South 24 Parganas and East Midnapore. Kolkata, Hooghly, Howrah and West Midnapore districts will face wind speed of 110-120 kmph gusting up to 135 kmph,” the IMD chief said. Apart from West Bengal, Amphan will also affect coastal regions of Odisha.
Currently, the storm is over the Westcentral Bay of Bengal and is moving north-northeastwards with a speed of 17 kmph.
“It is very likely to move north-northeastwards across the northwest Bay of Bengal and cross West Bengal-Bangladesh coasts between Digha (West Bengal) and Hatiya Islands (Bangladesh) close to Sundarbans during the afternoon to evening hours of May 20,” IMD chief Mrutyunjay Mohapatra said.
NDRF Chief SN Pradhan, who was also at the press briefing in New Delhi, said that 41 NDRF teams have been deployed to handle the cyclone Amphan crisis in Odisha and West Bengal.
“Fifteen teams are deployed in Odisha. They are carrying out awareness drives, communication drives, and evacuation. Nineteen teams are deployed in West Bengal, two in standby there,” NDRF Chief SN Pradhan said.
We’ve kept the additional backup of six NDRF battalions. The battalions in Varanasi, Patna, Guwahati, Vijaywada, Arakkonam and in Pune are on standby. They have military airports and troops that can be brought on short notice, the NDRF chief said. Every battalion has four teams, so there are 24 teams on standby.
Meanwhile, telecom secretary Anshu Prakash said adequate arrangements were being done to ensure the availability of telecommunication services during the cyclone. “Telecom service providers have been asked to arrange a sufficient number of generator sets with enough diesel and station them in all districts so that if there is any power disruption, then the towers can be restarted with the help of these gen-sets,” Prakash said.
He also informed media that SMS alerts were being generated to people in affected districts, for evacuation. “It is up to state governments that in what frequency they want to send alerts. It’s free of cost. It’ll be in local languages. Intra-circle roaming will continue after cyclone crosses,” he said.