BHUBANESWAR: The Odisha government on Saturday put seven districts on high alert as the IMD predicted the formation of a cyclonic storm over Bay of Bengal, which may then move towards the southern part of the state and neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, a top official said.
The government has rushed rescue teams to the vulnerable areas and asked officials to evacuate people from low-lying areas, Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) P K Jena stated.
As many as 42 teams of Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) and 24 squads of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), along with fire brigade personnel, have been dispatched to the seven districts -- Gajapati, Ganjam, Rayagada, Koraput, Malkangiri, Nabarangpur, Kandhamal.
Ganjam is expected to get severely affected by the cyclonic storm, and 15 rescue teams have been deployed in that area alone, Jena said.
Besides, 11 fire service units, six teams of the ODRAF and eight of the NDRF are in reserve for emergency purposes, he maintained.
The district administrations of Gajapati and Koraput have cancelled holidays and leaves on September 25 and 26.
Collectors have directed government officials and employees to be on their toes at respective headquarters to meet any exigency.
According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), a deep depression that lay over north and adjoining central Bay of Bengal has moved westwards at a speed of 14 kmph.
At 8.30 am on Saturday, it was centred around 470 km east-southeast of Gopalpur in Odisha and 540 km east-northeast of Kalingapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.
"It (the weather system) is likely to intensify into a cyclonic storm and move nearly westwards and cross north Andhra Pradesh and south Odisha coasts between Vishakhapatnam and Gopalpur, around Kalingapatnam, by evening of September 26," the agency noted.
IMD Director General (DG) Dr Mrutunjay Mohapatra said the wind speed of the weather system will vary between 75 kmph to 85 kmph, gusting up to 95 kmph.
"Many low-lying areas will be inundated in the identified districts. Flash flood is feared in the hilly areas of Odisha's southern region. Urban pockets in Ganjam and Puri could experience waterlogging due to heavy to very heavy and extremely heavy rainfall in parts," Mohapatra warned.
The state government has cautioned against possible flooding in rivers, landslides in certain areas, along with large-scale inundation, he added.
Jena, on his part, said that the intensity of the cyclone that is likely to approach Odisha and Andhra Pradesh will be akin to 'Titli', the storm that battered the state in 2018.
"During the landfall of the cyclone, the wind speed could hover between 90 kmph and 100 kmph. Barring that period, the wind speed all along Sunday is expected to be limited to 70 kmph. Four-five districts will receive heavy rainfall."
"Southern Odisha rivers such as Rushikulya, Nagabali and Vansadhara could swell due to extremely heavy rainfall," the SRC pointed out.
The weather office stated that light to moderate showers at most places with heavy rainfall at isolated places are expected in Odisha and coastal Andhra Pradesh on Saturday.
There is also a likelihood of light to moderate showers at most places of the state on Sunday with heavy to very heavy rainfall in a few areas and extremely heavy rainfall at isolated places in south Odisha and north coastal Andhra Pradesh.
Parts of north interior Odisha, Telangana and Chhattisgarh may also experience heavy rainfall on Sunday.
Similarly, for September 27, the IMD forecast light to moderate rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy showers at isolated places in Odisha and Telangana and torrential rainfall at isolated places in coastal West Bengal.
Over the next three days, the sea condition will be rough to very rough and fishermen in Odisha, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh have been told not to venture into east-central and adjoining northeast Bay of Bengal for safety reasons.