BHUBANESWAR: As cyclone Yaas is likely to hit the landmass near Dhamra and south of Balasore on Wednesday morning, Odisha government on Tuesday launched a massive evacuation in the coastal villages of Balasore, Bhadrak, Kendrapara, and Jagatsinghpur districts.
Operations at Dhamra and Paradip ports were completely suspended since Monday in the wake of the approaching cyclone. While Dhamra port that is on the path of the cyclone hoisted signal number 10 indicating ‘great danger’, Paradip port has hoisted signal number 4.
Dhamra port sources said all vessels berthed at the ports have been freed and the people around a two-km radius of the port area have been evacuated to safer places.
“As per the weather forecast from the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the Adani Dhamra Port and Special Economic Zone has hoisted the highest signal that means great danger and the cyclone is expected to move over or close to the port,” said an official of Dhamra port.
Sources said 22 ships berthed at both the ports and 20 others at the harbours have already moved to high seas where the vessels would be safer. The jetties inside the ports have also been made vessel free. The vessel tracking and monitoring system is constantly in touch with the vessels and all the control rooms at the ports are active.
“We have evacuated all manpower from the port area. Port security booms and all hanging and high-mast lights have been downed. All electric equipment has been shut down and all precautionary measures taken to prevent damage to costly equipment. Marine unloading arms have been fastened properly and some of them removed. While all loose materials have been netted, train engines and bogies have been hooked,” said the official.
People in nearly eight panchayats close to Dhamra port have been put on high alert and those who are living in thatched and kutcha houses have been moved to cyclone shelters. The district administration and port authorities are making all arrangements to provide them dry rations.
The National Disaster Response Force and Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force have been pressed into service along with the Fire Service personnel for the evacuation of people that is underway in at least 20 coastal villages in Chandabali and Basudevpur blocks in Bhadrak district. More than 60,750 people in Balasore district and 70,000 people in Bhadrak district have been shifted to cyclone shelters and safer places.
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has initiated precautionary measures to protect the missile testing complex at Abdul Kalam Island, nearly 12 km from Dhamra coast. Defence sources said nearly 150 personnel have been evacuated from the island and all electric equipments have been shut down barring the communication network.
Director of Integrated Test Range (ITR) HK Rath said barring only a few officials who are monitoring the situation and security personnel, all others have been shifted. "The communication network, towers and control room have been built in such a way that they can withstand wind speeds up to 200 km. The structures will remain unaffected even if there is a tidal surge of over 10 metre. The ferry service to the island has been suspended," he said.
Meanwhile, the State Government has asked the Collectors of the coastal districts to keep all pucca public buildings open for the public to take shelter anytime other than identified shelters.
Special Relief Commissioner PK Jena said the cyclone is likely to landfall around Dhamra (a few km north) on Wednesday morning. “We have alerted Collectors of Balasore and Bhadrak districts to remain fully prepared. The Covid hospitals in the districts have been fortified with additional strengthening of doors and windows with plywood. The health department is taking all cares for uninterrupted services to patients,” he added.