Mumbai: As an intensified Cyclone Tauktae blows past Maharashtra’s coast making its way towards neighbouring Gujarat, the state government has put coastal districts on high alert. While only the periphery of the maximum city is likely to be affected, weathermen have predicted that on Monday the Konkan region, including Mumbai, is likely to witness 50-70 kmph gusty winds with heavy rains in isolated places.
After wreaking damage on the Kerala and Goa coasts on Sunday, Cyclone Tauktae is likely to intensify further during the next 24 hours, moving north-northwestwards and reaching the Gujarat coast during the evening hours of May 17, the IMD has predicted. According to the IMD, Cyclone Tauktae has intensified into a “very severe cyclonic storm” and is very likely to reach the Gujarat coast in the evening hours of May 17.
“The cyclone Tauktae, predicted to be crossing the Gujarat coast between Porbandar and Mahuva (Bhavnagar district) early on May 18,” stated IMD alert.
Meanwhile, acting on the extended forecast for Tauktae, BMC and the state government have kept various disaster management teams and an NDRF team on standby.
CM Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday announced that the coastal districts had been put on high alert and the administration had taken adequate precautions to ensure uninterrupted power supply and oxygen supply to Covid hospitals/facilities.
Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar informed newspersons about the preparedness of the civic body. As part of the precautionary measures, all jumbo Covid centres have been asked to remain on standby and, if needed, patients would be shifted to other (safe) places. By Monday afternoon, the BMC would have an update on whether patients needed to be shifted, as the civic body is watching the situation closely. Around 100 lifeguards have been stationed at various beaches for contingencies. Fire brigade teams too are on stand-by. The Bandra-Worli sea link that was closed to traffic on Sunday will remain so on Monday, too. There are two or three private centres which will offer vaccinations but all state government and BMC-run vaccination centres will remain closed on Monday.
“Power supply to the hospitals will not be disrupted and we have already worked on the backup system, which will be activated immediately and patients’ treatment will not be hampered, no one will suffer,” said a senior BMC official.
“The entire North Konkan belt will get rainfall and gusty winds on Monday. Mumbai City on Sunday recorded a temperature of 37.4-degree celsius which is 4-degree Celsius above normal and desert-like dry humidity of 29 per cent,” said Rajesh Kapadia, Mumbai-based independent weatherman and founder of the popular, private weather blog, ‘Vagaries of Weather’.
“On Monday the city will witness gusty winds upto 50 to 70 kmph. Pune too will see very windy weather and occasional rainfall. Saurashtra region in Gujarat on Tuesday, May 18, will witness heavy rain," predicted Vagaries of Weather.
Another private weather forecast agency, Skymet Weather, said: “The cyclone is expected to move in the north or north northwest direction parallel to the Maharashtra coast and may make a landfall over the South coast of Gujarat near Amreli on the early morning of May 18.
“Heavy to very heavy rain and thundershower activities are expected over Konkan and Goa and Madhya Maharashtra until the afternoon of May 18. Moderate to heavy rain has already commenced over South Konkan and Goa and South Madhya Maharashtra. There will be a gradual increase in rain activity over Pune, Raigarh, Mumbai, Ahmednagar, Aurangabad, and Nasik.”
Owing to the cyclone alert, Mumbai Police have directed all their police stations and traffic police branches to revisit their monsoon preparedness and disaster management plans, with adequate manpower being made available.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Operations) Chaitanya S said all officers and staff had been instructed to handle any situation arising due to the cyclone and check their communication equipment, such as wireless sets for readiness. Patrolling vehicles had been kept ready with rescue equipment such as life jackets, first-aid kits, ropes, hammers, emergency lighting, stretchers etc., while police personnel will be equipped with protective equipment such as raincoat, umbrellas etc.”
Close coordination will be maintained with local BMC officers for evacuation and rescue efforts. Public address systems will be used to create awareness of the situation in vulnerable spots such as low-lying areas and for immediate clearance of fallen trees from roads, added DCP Chaitanya.
Meanwhile, the traffic department has been instructed to take measures to prevent traffic jams. Traffic diversions will be made in case of roads blocked due to fallen trees, waterlogging etc and police stations will take crowd control measures. Measures will be taken to prevent disruption of Covid-related services, security audits of establishments where oxygen supply systems are installed for Covid19 patients undertaken, to ensure free movement of ambulances.
Police have also instructed their personnel to prevent public from visiting beaches and waterfronts. Fishermen will be advised to avoid the sea till the situation is normal.