Slated to make landfall near Mumbai Wednesday afternoon, megacity hit by double whammy
Even as Mumbai fights challenges posed by COVID-19 on multiple fronts and as the coronavirus cases continue to rise daily, the city now faces a double whammy with the cyclone ‘Nisarga’ slated to make the landfall in Maharashtra Wednesday. A state-wide alert has been issued for Mumbai city and suburbs, Thane, Palghar, Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts. The cyclonic storm which can turn into a 'severe cyclonic storm' could pose challenges for Maharashtra, already battling the virus, in deploying relief and rescue operations for cyclone-affected people.
The cyclonic storm is expected to make landfall close to Alibaug, 94 km south of Mumbai on the afternoon of June 3. As per the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the cyclonic storm will cross north Maharashtra and adjoining south Gujarat coast between Harihareshwar and Daman close to Alibaug (in Maharashtra's Raigad) on June 3 as a 'severe cyclonic storm' with a maximum sustained wind speed of 100-110 gusting to 120 kmph and bring in very heavy rains. As per IMD, the cyclone will have an impact on Mumbai with storm surge of 1-2 metres above astronomical side in low-lying areas of Mumbai.
Out of the 16 NDRF units, 10 have been deployed for rescue operations during the cyclone and six SDRF units are in reserve. As per the CMO, on Tuesday fishermen were told to return from sea and slum-dwellers in low-lying areas of Mumbai were instructed to evacuate the areas before the cyclone hits Mumbai the coasts. Those staying in 'kuccha' houses were being moved to safer places.
The state government is also taking measures to prevent power outages and is also taking precautions in chemical industries and the nuclear power plant in Palghar and Raigad districts. As per local officials in Palghar, more than 21,000 villagers were being evacuated. Teams are prepared to tackle the likely damage that will be caused by tree falls, landslides and heavy rainfall. The control room at the Mantralaya (state secretariat) is operational round the clock and instructions have been given to the army, air force, navy and the IMD to ensure coordination.
Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray said late Tuesday evening that Maharashtra is dealing with a two-pronged crisis and people must cooperate with the government. He said that the administration is taking due precautions and people should avoid taking shelter in temporary structures, dilapidated buildings and the like. He said that people should switch off power, if necessary, especially in rural areas and store drinking water.
"We have set up jumbo facilities for COVID patients at BKC. After the cyclone warning patients have been shifted to safer places. Considering the prevalence of COVID-19,all precautions will be taken during relief and rehabilitation works and non-Covid hospitals are being made available,” said Thackeray.
The Mumbai Police has issued prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC and restricted movement along the promenades and beaches. As per the prohibitory order, Mumbai is expected to be "severely impacted" by the cyclonic storm. This in turn poses grave danger to human life, health and safety, and was thus grounds for passing prohibitory orders under Section 144.
As per the order issued on Tuesday by the Police Commissioner's office, the movement of one of more people in public places such as along the coast at beaches, promenades, parks and the like has been prohibited.
"This order shall come into force, in the areas under the control of Commissioner of Police, Greater Mumbai, with effect from 00.01 hours on 03/06/2020 and ending at 12.00 hours on 04/06/2020 unless withdrawn earlier," it added. Those violating the order can face action under IPC section 188 (defying an order lawfully promulgated by a public servant), it added.
The BMC too has issued a list of Do’s and Don'ts for Mumbaikars
Loose things outside the house should be tied or moved indoors
Seal important documents and jewelry in a plastic bag
Regularly inspect battery operated as well as reserve power systems
Pay attention to the official instructions on television and radio
Practice the actions to be taken in case of emergencies
If you do not live in a mud house/hut, choose a part of the house as an emergency shelter and practice how all members of the house will use the space during the cyclone
Keep an emergency kit ready
Stay away from windows
Close some windows and keep some windows open so that the pressure is maintained
Stay at the center of the room
Stay away from corners as debris often accumulates in corners
Hide under strong furniture such as a stool or heavy table or desk, and hold it tight
Use your hands to protect your head and neck
Avoid large roof spaces such as auditoriums and shopping malls
If you find an open space and there is enough time,find right shelter in the nearest pit or pasture
Relocate to a pre-determined or administration-determined location
Disconnect the power supply of all non-emergency equipment and tools
Store drinking water in a clean place (jugs, bottles, etc.)
Help people trapped or injured. Provide first aid as needed
Check for air leaks. If you smell gas or hear a leaking sound immediately open the windows, and exit the building. If possible, turn off the gas valve and report to the gas company
Check for damage to electrical equipment. If you notice sparks, exposed wires or burning smell of rubber, disconnect the main power supply and call an electrician
Help those in need of special help like children, physically challenged, elderly, and neighbors
Don't spread or believe in rumours
Do not attempt to drive or ride any vehicle during the cyclone
Stay away from damaged buildings
Do not move injured people unless it is absolutely safe to do so; it may cause more harm
Do not allow oil and other flammable substances to spill; clean them immediately
BMC has also provided a helpline number for the residents of Mumbai. Residents can dial 1916 and Press 4 for any cyclone related query or concern.