Cyclone Nivar packs speed; NDRF teams deployed

Cyclone Nivar increases speed, to cross Puducherry coast Wednesday night or early Thursday

Intensity of rain in Chennai was increasing every hour with a majority of the areas drenched since Tuesday

Chennai and other coastal districts continued to receive heavy to heavy rains since Monday morning submerging many low-lying areas across the metropolis. Credit: PTI

Packing a punch, Cyclone Nivar increased its speed to 11 km per hour on the course to make landfall between Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coasts by Wednesday night or early Thursday morning packing winds to the speed of 120 to 130 km per hour gushing up to 145 km per hour.

A little before 5 pm, Cyclone Nivar intensified into a very severe cyclonic storm, Dr S Balachandran, Deputy Director General, Regional Meteorological Centre, Chennai, said. “The cyclone will begin its landfall between Wednesday night and Thursday morning around Puducherry. The approximate landing time would be two hours,” he told Deccan Herald.

Cyclone Nivar, which was moving at 7 kmph at 5:30 am on Wednesday, gradually increased its speed through the day and at the time of writing, it was travelling at 16 kmph. It lay about 90 km east-south-east of Cuddalore, 150 km east-south-east of Puducherry, and 220 km south-east of Chennai at 2:30 pm.

Read | Cyclone Nivar to cross coast between Tamil Nadu and Puducherry on Wednesday night or Thursday morning: IMD

“It is very likely to move west north-westwards and cross Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coasts between Karaikal and Mamallapuram around Puducherry during mid-night of November 25 and early hours of November 26 as a very severe cyclonic storm with a wind speed of 120-130 kmph gusting to 145 kmph,” the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said in its latest bulletin at 5.00 pm.

However, independent weather blogger Pradeep John and weather portals forecast the landing area between Mamallapuram and Kalpakkam, which houses an atomic power plant. A clear picture of the landfall area is expected to emerge Wednesday evening.

The government extended a public holiday announced on Wednesday to Thursday as well in 16 districts. Due to the severity of the cyclone, Chennai Airport suspended operations for 12 hours from 7 pm on Wednesday.

Chennai receives 16 cm rainfall in 24 hours

Chennai and other coastal districts continued to receive heavy to heavy rains since Monday morning submerging many low-lying areas across the metropolis. The city's average rainfall in the last 24 hours ending at 8.30 am on Wednesday was 16 cm, the IMD said, adding this was the highest in the state.

The intensity of rain in Chennai was increasing every hour with a majority of the areas drenched since Tuesday. The Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) said it was prepared to face any eventuality and has set up 169 relief centres across the city to house people who are being evacuated from low-lying areas.

Track latest updates on Cyclone Nivar here

With rains set to intensify in Chennai, GCC Commissioner G Prakash asked officials to remove all hoardings and banners to avoid any danger.

Revenue Minister R B Udhayakumar said as many as 24,166 persons, including 10,270 women and 3,948 children, were evacuated from low-lying areas and lodged at 315 relief centres in 13 districts across the state. The state has kept 4,733 relief centres ready that will be able to accommodate nearly 13 lakh people.

He also said the NDRF has already pre-positioned 12 teams across the state, while the Indian Army will deploy 12 Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Teams and two Engineer Task Force. The Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard have made elaborate arrangements by keeping ships and Dornier aircraft on stand-by.

Water released from Chembarambakkam Lake

In Chennai, people living in low-lying areas on the banks of Adyar River were asked to be vigilant and move to safety as the Public Works Department (PWD) released 1,000 cusecs of water from the Chembarambakkam Lake, one of the reservoirs that supply water to the city.

Read | Cyclone Nivar: Excess water from Chembarambakkam released

Release of water from the lake caused much fear among people as it is widely believed that discharge of excess water from Chembarambakkam Lake at “one go” led to unprecedented floods in Chennai in the first week of December 2015.

However, authorities asked people not to panic. Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami visited Chembarambakkam Lake to take stock of the situation, while the Leader of Opposition hit the streets by visiting flood-affected areas in his constituency, Kolathur in Chennai, and other areas of the city.

The Public Works Department (PWD) said according to protocol excess water will be released once the water level reaches 22 feet as against the full reservoir level of 24 feet.

Health Minister visits hospitals in Mamallapuram

With power supply likely to be snapped during the landfall time, the government asked hospitals to ensure that their generators are in working condition and that they have enough fuel in reserve. Tamil Nadu government has kept 465 ambulances ready in the seven districts, while setting up control rooms set up in all 36 revenue districts.

Health Minister C Vijayabaskar and Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan visited the government hospital in Mamallapuram, one of the areas to be affected, and checked the preparedness.

The IMD also forecast heavy to very heavy rains for the next two days in Chennai, Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur, and Chengalpattu districts and warned of flooding, disruption of electricity and water services, possible damage to roads, and some areas getting inundated. Rains will continue across coastal Tamil Nadu.

Public transport remains suspended in Pudukkottai, Nagapattinam, Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, Cuddalore, Villupuram, and Chengalpattu districts, and in Puducherry, and Karaikal till further orders, while sub-urban trains in Chennai will not run beyond 10 am on Wednesday.

 

Measures in Puducherry

With the cyclone likely to make landfall around Puducherry, Chief Minister V Narayanasamy held a review meeting on Monday night and asked all departments to open control rooms to attend to complaints from people relating to the cyclone.

Elaborate precautionary measures have been taken in Karaikal, an enclave attached to the UT which is around 150 km from Puducherry, as well with one team of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) pre-positioning in the district. Two NDRF teams are in Puducherry, while six have been deployed in neighbouring Cuddalore district in Tamil Nadu, just 20 km away.

With the cyclone likely to uproot trees, the UT government has asked the Public Works Department (PWD) to prune the tree branches and keep ready the machinery needed to remove trees if they are uprooted during the landfall.

“Elaborate precautionary measures have been taken in the Union Territory because Cyclone Nivar is likely to make its landfall here. Imposition of Section 144 will help us control people from stepping out. Our aim is to minimise damage due to the cyclone as much as possible,” Narayanasamy told DH.