- Tamil Nadu and Puducherry have declared public holiday today
- Cyclone Nivar is likely to hit the coast by midnight or early tomorrow
- Bus services in seven Tamil Nadu districts suspended
Coastal Tamil Nadu and Puducherry are bracing for Cyclone Nivar, which has intensified into a “severe cyclonic storm”, expected to intensify further and is barrelling towards the southeast coast. The powerful cyclone is likely to hit the coast by midnight or early tomorrow, the Met department said. The cyclone could hit the coast between Mamallapuram in Tamil Nadu (which is around 56 km from state capital Chennai) and Karaikal in Puducherry. Nivar has brought with it heavy rain and strong winds in coastal Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted to assure the Tamil Nadu and Puducherry governments – both have said today is a public holiday – of all possible support.
Here are the top 10 updates on Cyclone Nivar:
The cyclone will bring extremely heavy rainfall and winds between 120 and 130 km per hour, with gusts of up to 145 km per hour, the Regional Meteorological Centre in Chennai has advised, adding that coastal areas could receive heavy rain till tomorrow. 1, 000 cusecs surplus water will be released from the Chembarambakkam lake outside Chennai this noon. The discharge is likely to increase the water flow in Chennai’s Adyar river and people living in low-lying areas along the river are being evacuated. Authorities, however, said there is no need for panic at the moment.Around 2,000 people have been evacuated to higher grounds from Tamil Nadu’s Cuddalore district.
Bus services in seven Tamil Nadu districts have been suspended. The state government has said that those involved in essential services will continue to work. Chief Minister Palaniswami appealed to people to stay indoors as far as possible and said over 4,000 “vulnerable” locations had been identified and local officials have been told to ensure peoples’ safety.
“Spoke to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Shri Edappadi K Palaniswami and Puducherry Chief Minister Shri V Narayanasamy regarding the situation in the wake of Cyclone Nivar. Assured all possible support from the Centre. I pray for the safety and well-being of those living in the affected areas,” the Prime Minister tweeted in English and Tamil.
With memories of the 2015 floods still fresh, Tamil Nadu is also monitoring four reservoirs – Poondi, Cholavaram, Red Hills and Chembarambakkam – in anticipation of a rapid rise in water levels. Revenue Minister RB Udhayakumar, who heads the state Disaster Management Department, told NDTV: “We are ensuring clear channels for smooth flow of water and safe storage in large lakes”.
Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy told NDTV today that the union territory anticipates damage to crops, thatched roofs, and old buildings, besides power and communication lines. On Wednesday, Puducherry banned large gatherings and public movement till 6 am Thursday. All non-essential shops and services have been shut; only milk booths, fuel stations, hospitals and pharmacies, and government offices will be allowed to open. Puducherry Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi appealed people this morning to stay indoors and move to safer places. Puducherry has installed ”Number 7 storm warning cage at port areas”, which means the port will experience severe weather from a storm of light or moderate intensity that is expected to cross over or near the port.
Around 1,200 National Disaster Response Force personnel have been deployed in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and neighbouring Andhra Pradesh as well, NDRF chief SN Pradhan told PTI. 12 teams are in Tamil Nadu (six in Cuddalore district and two in Chennai), seven in Andhra Pradesh and three in Puducherry. An additional 20 teams will be on standby in Odisha’s Cuttack, Vijaywada in Andhra Pradesh and Thrissur in Kerala.
The Indian Navy has said it is closely monitoring the movement of Nivar, and is in constant touch with officials of both Tamil Nadu and Puducherry governments. Naval ships, aircraft and rescue and diving teams have been kept on standby.
State governments expect widespread damage to power lines and communication networks, with fears that houses in rural areas will be destroyed and trees will be uprooted. Both governments have also sounded warnings to fishing communities and relocated thousands of people from coastal and low-lying regions, which may be hit by tidal waves up to a metre in height. An alert has been sounded at the Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS) in Tamil Nadu’s Kalpakkam, which is around 20 km from Mamallapuram. Authorities are closely monitoring the weather to take action as required, officials told news agency PTI.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jaganmohan Reddy has also sounded an alert. The state is expected to receive heavy rainfall as Nivar moves inland. Nellore and Chittoor districts are on alert, as are parts of Kadapa, Kurnool and Anantpur, with between 11 and 20 cm of rain and wind speeds of up to 75 km per hour expected. Fishermen have been advised not to go out to sea and low-lying areas have been warned of flooding.
In May, “super cyclone” Amphan ravaged several districts of south Bengal, killed 98. Amphan caused large- scale destruction to property, flattening villages, destroying farms and leaving thousands without electricity.