Thiruvananthapuram: In a blame game over Cyclone Ockhi, the Kerala government on Sunday insisted that it received an IMD weather alert only on November 30, but Union minister Alphons Kannathananm said it was issued two days earlier. Though Kannanthanam had earlier backed the state’s contention that they had not received any prior warning, he changed his stand within hours and said the central agencies had issued early cyclone alerts.
At a high-level meeting convened by the state government here, Chief Secretary K M Abraham said they had received a warning about the possibility of a deep depression on the morning of November 30, but there was no prediction about the cyclone, a statement from the Chief Minister’s Office said. The state received the cyclone alert only by noon on November 30 and all possible relief steps were taken within the short span of time, he said.
Majority of fishermen who got trapped in the rough sea due to the cyclone were those who had ventured for fishing on November 28 and 29, the chief secretary added. Earlier, backing the chief secretary’s stand, Kannanthanam, who also took part in the meeting along with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, said the Indian Meteorological Department’s first alert indicated only a possible depression. It had not mentioned any emergency situation or warning to stop fishermen from venturing into sea.
Earlier in the meeting, Kannanthanam also said the cyclone could not be declared a national calamity as there was no such scheme, but assured all necessary assistance to tackle the situation. The cyclone has wreaked havoc in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Lakshadweep, and left hundreds of fishermen stranded at sea.