Tamil Nadu, Puducherry brace for cyclone GAJA, 30,500 rescue personnel on standby

Chennai: Cyclonic storm GAJA will cross Tamil Nadu coast between Cuddalore and Pamban on November 15, bringing heavy rainfall along with gale wind, the Met office said on Monday as the state government put its machinery on alert and kept on standby 30,500 rescue personnel.

Neighbouring union territory of Puducherry, also covered by the cyclone alert, said it is on high alert as
well and precautionary steps are being taken to meet the situation. The cyclone lay about 720 km east northeast of Chennai over the Bay on Monday and it is very likely to move west southwestwards and intensify further into a severe cyclonic storm by Tuesday, the IMD said.

IMD forecast

The IMD website’s latest bulletin said, “The cyclonic storm ‘GAJA’ over westcentral and adjoining eastcentral amd south Bay of Bengal moved westwards with a speed of 5 kmph during past 6 hours and lay centered at 5:30 hours IST of today, the 13th November, 2018 over westcentral and adjoining east central and south Bay of Bengal near latitude 13.2°N and longitude 87.2°E, about 750 km east of Chennai (Tamil Nadu) and 840 km east­northeast of Nagappattinam (Tamil Nadu). It is very likely to intensify further into a Severe Cyclonic Storm during next 24 hours and maintain the intensity during subsequent 24 hours. It is very likely to move west  southwestwards. While moving west­southwestwards, it is likely to weaken gradually and cross Tamil Nadu coast between Cuddalore and Pamban as a cyclonic storm during 15th November forenoon.”

As a result, heavy rainfall at isolated places is likely to commence over south coastal Andhra Pradesh and north coastal Tamil Nadu from November 14 evening onward.

Tamil Nadu braces up for storm

Tamil Nadu chief minsiter K Palaniswami chaired a high-level meeting at the Secretariat of Ministers and top
officials to review the preparedness in the wake of the storm and forecast of heavy rainfall. Revenue Minsiter RB Udaya Kumar said 30,500 rescue personnel were on standby while arrangemets had been made for food and shelter at relief centres for those in low lying areas.

Across the state, a total of 4,399 locations have been identified as vulnerable and teams have been deployed for
rescue, he told reporters. Also, teams of the National and State Disaster Response Forces are ready for deployment.

Vigil has been mounted in coastal districts and meetings have been held to review preparedness, he said. Coatal and vulnerable districts including Cuddalore and Nagapattinam have been advised high alert, Udaya Kumar said.

Warnings issued

The IMD advised fishermen not to venture into sea which will be rough to very rough from Tuesday morning while the wind speed is expected to up further touching 110 kmph.

Storm surge of height of about 1.0 meter is very likely to inundate low lying areas of Nagappattinam, Thanjavur,
Pudukkottai and Ramanathapuram districts of Tamil Nadu and Karaikal district of Puducherry at the time of landfall.

The IMD also warned of major damage to thatched huts and houses.

Keeping in view the IMD forecast of heavy rains, the Central Water Commission issued an advisory to Tamil Nadu and Kerala authorities to maintain strict vigil at various dams which come under the “cyclone field” and are already 80% to 91% full. Puducherry Revenue and Industries Minister MOHF Shahjahan said that the union territory has been put on high alert. The minister appealed to people to not trust fake information on social media.

(With inputs from PTI)