Ahead of Cyclone Yaas, West Bengal evacuates people from low-lying areas

State administration has stored huge amounts of baby food, water pouches, tarpaulins and candles in all the cyclone centres and safe homes.

Kolkata: The district administrations of West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas and East Midnapore have started evacuating people from low-lying areas after the India Meteorological Department predicted that ‘Yaas‘, which may turn out to be “very severe cyclonic storm”, will make landfall somewhere between Paradwip in Odisha and Sagar in South 24 Parganas on May 26 evening at a speed ranging between 155 km/hr and 165 km/hr.

The administration has started evacuations in the areas like Sagar Island and Bakkhali in South 24 Parganas, Digha in East Midnapore and Sandeshkhali and Dhamakhali in North 24 Parganas. “We are asking the people who mainly stay in mud houses in the low-lying areas to leave their homes and go to the cyclone centres. The government has made arrangements for food and other arrangements. People who are detected with Covid have also been asked to shift to safe homes,” a senior state government official said.

Besides taking out residents from their homes, the state government is making every effort to ensure that there is not a single tourist left in Digha and Mandarmani – the two main tourist spots near the sea in East Midnapore district.

“Police has checked every hotel to see whether there are any tourists left. Though there are not many people because of the lockdown but even if there are any, they have been told to leave the hotel immediately. The hotel staff have also been asked to leave and either go back home or shift to cyclone centres,” an official in East Midnapore district said.

“People are asked not to panic but cooperate with the state government and the police,” he added.

Meanwhile a 90-member team of the National Disaster Response Force, the State Diaster Response Force and coastal guards have been pressed into action to evacuate the people from the low-lying areas.

State administration has stored huge amounts of baby food, water pouches, tarpaulins and candles in all the cyclone centres and safe homes.

“For Covid patients, we have made additional arrangements for generators in all the hospitals and safe homes. The doctors and the paramedical staff have been asked to stay in the hospitals 24×7 so that they can respond to any kind of emergency. Army has been asked to stay on standby,” a state official said.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said that she had “extensively reviewed the disaster management preparedness with regards to the impending Yaas cyclone with all senior officers of relevant Central and state agencies along with DMs & SPs.

“All officials have been advised of integrated command, advance planning and early evacuation from coastal & riverine areas to rescue shelters including cyclone & flood shelters, and to conduct relief and rehabilitation operations at the earliest.

“Fishermen have been alerted to immediately return. 24×7 control rooms have been set up (Ph No – 1070 & 033-22143526). All agencies have been asked to spring into action. Relief materials have been dispatched & Quick Response Teams are mobilised. I request all to stay alert,” she had said.

Six districts that have been identified to be at high risk of devastation by the cyclone are North and South 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly, and East and West Midnapore. Every block of these districts will have three High Tension and three Low Tension gangs for undertaking immediate restoration work of power supply. Same will be followed for Bidhannagar. Each gang will have six to seven electricity workers.

The gangs will report to the BDOs by 1 pm on 25 May. In Kolkata, two gangs would be deployed for every KMC ward along with materials.

A control room has been set up in the Power Department that will function 24×7 from 25 May. The contact numbers for the control room are 8900793503 and 8900793504.

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