Ahmedabad: Dreaded cyclone Biparjoy began its ferocious landfall exactly at 5.12 pm on Thursday with its wall clouds touching the Saurashtra-Kutch coast in Gujarat, even as it sent out signals right from the morning with strong winds and heavy rains lashing several parts of the state.
The intensity of the storm left five people dead even before the cyclone’s landfall started, according to the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) which has deployed 18 teams in the coastal districts with majority of them in Kutch.
Heavy rains hit several parts of Gujarat
The NDRF told reporters, "Five people have already lost their lives before the cyclone made landfall. Some houses in Jamnagar were damaged."
The Gujarat Government and the central agencies, including Indian Coast Guard, Army and Navy and NDRF have pulled out all stops to ensure nature's fury causes the least damage.
Parts of the Saurashtra-Kutch region received heavy rains accompanied by strong winds, the Met department said, adding that the cyclone would hit with maximum sustained wind speeds of 125-135 kmph gusting to 150 kmph. This will be the second cyclone to hit the state in two years after ‘Tauktae’ in May 2021.
A few places in Porbandar, Rajkot, Morbi, Junagadh and remaining districts of Saurashtra and North Gujarat regions are likely to receive heavy to very heavy rainfall on Thursday.
The IMD has also forecast light to moderate rainfall with heavy to extremely heavy showers at isolated places over north Gujarat districts and adjoining south Rajasthan on Friday.
Govt adopts zero casualty approach
Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, who has been constantly reviewing the situation along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, has stated that his government has adopted a “zero casualty” approach to the calamity.
The central ministers were all variously holding review meetings to ensure things remained under control, while Gujarat CM and his Rajasthan counterpart Ashok Gehlot oversaw matters in their states. Patel has said, “Under the guidance and direction of Prime Minister Narendrabhai Modi and Home Minister Amitbhai Shah, we are all prepared for any eventuality with zero casualty approach.”
The IMD said the landfall began with the ‘wall cloud’ region of the cyclonic storm touching the Saurashtra coast at 5.12 p.m. as it headed for its final coverage of land near Jakhau port in the Kutch district and continued until midnight. IMD’s director general Mrityunjay Mohapatra said the sea conditions would remain disturbed on Thursday in the northeast Arabian Sea.
Close to 1 lakh people shifted to safe places
The Gujarat administration said it had so far shifted over 94,000 people living in eight coastal districts to temporary shelters. Of these 94,427 people, 46,800 were evacuated in Kutch district, followed by 10,749 in Devbhumi Dwarka, 9,942 in Jamnagar, 9,243 in Morbi, 6,822 in Rajkot, 4,864 in Junagadh, 4,379 in Porbandar and 1,605 in Gir Somnath district.
An official government release stated that, “Those who were shifted to safer places include nearly 8,900 children, 1,131 pregnant women and 4,697 elderly persons. A total of 1,521 shelter homes have been set up in these eight districts. Medical teams are visiting the shelters at regular intervals.”
As Biparjoy was inching closer to Gujarat coast, the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) had made all arrangements to deal with any untoward incident. It was all ready to broadcast weather warnings by ICG ships, aircraft and radar stations to warn all mariners.
The ICG ensured that all fishing boats, which are most vulnerable, are returned to their places. All oil handling agencies were also sensitized to prepare for contingencies and 15 ships are ready in multiple configurations.
It had also ensured that helicopter operation facilities were activated especially at Okha, Jakhau and Wadinar areas for quick response in Kutch district where cyclone landfall is expected. While all eight ICG stations along the coast are ready to deal with any eventuality, a senior DIG rank officer has been stationed in Mundra in Kutch district to oversee field units first-hand. 4. Twenty-three disaster relief teams have been formed in the ICG stations for aid to civil authorities.
Trains in the western region have been hit too due to the inclement weather. So far 76 trains have been cancelled, 36 short-terminated and 31 short-originated. Besides this, various safety and security precautions are being taken by the Western Railways for train passengers in areas under its jurisdiction.