Severe cyclonic storm Nisarga – the second to strike India in two weeks – made landfall on the Maharashtra coast on Wednesday amid heavy rain. This is the first such storm to impact coronavirus-hit Mumbai, which has so far logged over 41,000 COVID-19 patients, in over 100 years. No one was allowed to come out in public places like beaches, parks and promenades along the Mumbai coastline. Maharashtra, Gujarat, Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli have been put on high alert till June 4 as some parts of these two states and the union territories fall on the path of the cyclone that developed over a low-pressure area over the Arabian Sea.
“The center of the severe cyclone “Nisarga” is very close to Maharashtra coast. Landfall process started and completed in three hours. The northeast sector of the eye of severe cyclonic storm “Nisarga” is entering into land,” the India Meteorological Department or IMD said in a tweet this afternoon. The storm will gradually enter into Mumbai and Thane district during next three hours, the weather office had said in an earlier post.
Fourty-three teams of National Disaster Response Force or NDRF were deployed in areas expected to be affected along Maharashtra and Gujarat coasts. One NDRF team consists of 45 personnel. “The evacuation is nearly complete. Those in shelters are being trained for life skills and social distancing is being ensured. All preparations are in order. Let’s hope we safely ride through the cyclone,” NDRF chief SN Pradhan said in a video message this afternoon.
The CR had on Wednesday rescheduled, diverted and regulated some trains, an official said. These included five special trains departing from Mumbai. Three special trains will be either diverted or regulated enroute, he added.
In Maharashtra, more than 19,000 people had been moved to safety. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had on Tuesday appealed to the people of the state to “stay indoors”. “The cyclone could be more severe than the ones the state has faced till now,” Mr Thackeray said. With over 70,000 COVID-19 cases, the state is the worst-hit in the country by the pandemic.
Mumbai’s civic body Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has put out a list of dos and don’ts for citizens, urging them to stay away from windows, check for gas leaks and keep mobile phones charged. “Dial 1916 and Press 4 for any cyclone-related questions. Ignore rumours, stay calm, don’t panic,” the BMC said.
Strong winds picked up in coastal areas this morning as the cyclone inched closer. Goa, Ratnagiri, Alibaug where the landfall was expected reported heavy rain.
The civil aviation regulator – Directorate General of Civil Aviation or DGCA – on Tuesday cautioned airlines about the dangers of operating during monsoon and stormy conditions. Air and rail traffic has been disrupted due to the storm.
A storm surge – as high as two metres (three to 6.5 feet) above the astronomical tide – will inundate the low-lying coastal areas of Mumbai, Thane and Raigad districts during the landfall, the weather department has said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday tweeted: “Took stock of the situation in the wake of cyclone conditions in parts of India’s western coast. Praying for everyone’s well-being. I urge people to take all possible precautions and safety measures (sic)”. In a tweet, his office later said that PM Modi spoke to Maharashtra Chief Minster Uddhav Thackeray, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, assuring all possible help from the centre.
Cyclone Nisarga will be the second to strike India’s coasts in less than two weeks; last month Cyclone Amphan, one of the worst storms to have formed over the Bay of Bengal in recent years, struck Bengal and parts of Odisha, killing nearly 100 people and affecting lakhs. Bengal Chief Minister estimated the damage done at Rs 1 lakh crore.