It's not just the second wave of COVID-19, India now also has to face the forces of nature in different forms. After the cloud burst in Uttarakhand earlier this week, the country has to brace itself for Cyclone Tauktae. Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, and Gujarat are in the path of the Cyclone that is passing through the country as we write this piece.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the country as India's daily caseload keeps increasing. On Sunday, the country recorded 3.11 lakh fresh cases of coronavirus in a day, taking the total tally of COVID-19 infections to 2,46,84,077; 4,077 COVID-related deaths were reported across the country, taking the death toll to 2,70,284. Amid the unprecedented surge, the authorities grapple with shortages of vaccines, treatments, and hospital beds. Several states/UTs have imposed fresh restrictions in a bid to contain the virus spread.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday reviewed the preparedness of the states, central ministries, and concerned agencies to deal with the situation arising due to Tauktae. He has people states take every possible measure to ensure that people are safely evacuated.
At a high-level meeting, which was attended by Home Minister Amit Shah and top officials, Modi directed them to ensure special preparedness on COVID-19 management in hospitals, vaccine cold chain, and other medical facilities on power back up and storage of essential medicines and to plan for unhindered movement of oxygen tankers.
The India Meteorology Department (IMD) has issued a ‘Yellow Alert' for Mumbai and Thane, meaning civic authorities must remain “updated” on the developing situation and prepare for the possible hazardous conditions.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has stationed over 50 teams in Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Gujarat. It has stationed three teams in Mumbai, which is trying to get back on its feet after a massive COVID-19 surge over the past few weeks, to assist civic authorities in relief operations. The IMD said Mumbai will likely receive rainfall from Sunday afternoon. "Mumbai can expect showers from Sunday afternoon," Shubhani Bhute, senior director (weather) IMD Mumbai, told PTI.
Meanwhile, at least four people have lost their lives and 73 villages across six districts in Karnataka have been affected amid the intensification of Cyclone Tauktae, said the Karnataka State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) on Sunday. On the other hand, the water level in many dams across Kerala showed a rising trend on Sunday even as cyclone Tauktae moved away from the state's coast after wreaking havoc, reported ANI.
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday chaired a review meeting with the Chief Ministers of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Administrator of Daman and Diu and Dadra Nagar Haveli to assess the preparedness of the states and central ministries to deal with the situation.
The cyclone intensified into a "very severe cyclonic storm" over the east-central Arabian Sea and is very likely to intensify further during the next 12 hours, said the India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Sunday morning.
It is very likely to move north-northwestwards and reach Gujarat coast in the evening hours of May 17 and cross Gujarat coast between Porbandar and Mahuva (Bhavnagar district) around May 18 early morning, the IMD said.
National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) officials have also assured on Friday that they are well prepared for Cyclone Tauktae and 53 teams have been committed, 24 teams pre-deployed, and 29 teams are on standby ready for the 5 most vulnerable states-- Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat and Maharashtra.