New Delhi/Gujarat (India), June 13 (ANI): Gujarat government on Wednesday evacuated over 2.7 lakh people from 10 coastal districts as "very severe cyclonic storm" Vayu inched closer to the state coast and is expected to make landfall between Dwarka and Veraval on Thursday afternoon.
Columns of Army, NDRF personnel, Air Force helicopters and 300 marine commandoes were deployed for rescue and relief operations, while flight operations from five airports in Porbandar, Diu, Bhavnagar, Keshod and Kandla were suspended.
Around 2.75 lakh people were shifted and more than 500 villages have been evacuated from the coastal regions in view of the Cyclone Vayu approaching the Gujarat Coast, the government said.
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani chaired a meeting with senior state officials, officers of the Army and NDRF and District Magistrates to take stock of the situation.
"47 teams of NDRF have reached Gujarat and over 5 more teams will reach by Thursday morning. Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard have taken their positions. State Disaster Management is at work. Police patrolling will be done throughout the night so that no one is left in the lower regions," Rupani said after the meeting in Gandhinagar.
The NDRF teams have been deployed at Kutch, Morbi, Rajkot, Jamnagar, Dwarka, Porbandar, Gir Somnath, Amreli, Junagarh, Bhavnagar, Vadodara, Valsad, Surat and Gandhi Nagar; four teams have been pre-positioned at Diu for a prompt response, the government said.
Chief Minister Rupani said that all sea-related activities have been stopped and all departments have been put on alert. "Senior Ministers and Senior Secretaries have been sent to control rooms of district administration and they are monitoring the situation," he said.
Vayu is expected to cross Gujarat coast between Dwarka and Veraval as a "very severe cyclonic storm" with a wind speed of 155-165 km per hour gusting to 180 km per hour Thursday afternoon.
Taking to ANI in New Delhi, MeT Department Director RK Jenamani said that Vayu is expected to reach the coastal area of Porbandar and Kutch with a speed of 135-165 on Thursday morning. "This is similar to the cyclone Fani in Odisha and it is hard to predict its longevity."He said that its effects will be seen on Thursday and Friday and heavy rain is expected in the affected areas of the state.
Meanwhile, Western Railway cancelled the operation of around 77 mainline trains, while 33 other mainline trains will be short terminated with partial cancellation as a precautionary measure in the cyclone-prone areas. A total of 110 trains of Western Railway are affected.
"Various safety and security precautions are also being taken by Western Railway for train passengers of these cyclone prone areas under the jurisdiction of Western Railways i.e. Veraval, Okha, Porbandar, Bhavnagar, Bhuj and Gandhidham, etc," a press statement by the Western Railway said.
Additional Chief Secretary (Revenue) Pankaj Kumar said that schools, colleges and Anganwadis would remain shut on June 12 and 13 in the coastal districts.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has advised people to closely follow real-time information being disseminated by the authorities. "Praying for the safety and well-being of all those affected by Cyclone Vayu. The Government and local agencies are providing real-time information, which I urge those in affected areas to closely follow," he tweeted.
Vayu comes after an extremely severe cyclonic storm 'Fani' wreaked havoc in Odisha last month. (ANI)