With the cyclonic storm "Nisarga" expected to hit the Maharashtra coast on Wednesday, Mumbai and neighbouring districts have been placed on high alert. Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray through video conferencing and reviewed the state's preparedness, the Chief Minister's office said.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) said it has positioned nine teams in vulnerable districts - three in Mumbai, two in Palghar, one in Thane, one in Raigad, one in Ratnagiri and one in Sindhudurg. The NDRF is in close contact with the Maharashtra government's relief and rehabilitation department, the met office authorities and district administrations. NDRF teams are carrying out survey in coastal areas of these districts along with local authorities.
"Nisarga is a severe cyclone and we're expecting a wind speed of 90-100 kmph, which I think is negotiable. Still, as a precautionary measure, we are going to start the evacuation of people from the coastal areas of the two states (Maharashtra and Gujarat) soon," NDRF Director-General S N Pradhan said.
Steps are being taken to ensure there is no disruption of power supply at a time when the state is battling the coronavirus crisis and thousands of patients are undergoing treatment in various hospitals, the NDRF said.
Fishermen have been asked to come back from the sea and respective district collectors have been asked to ensure there is no loss of life, a statement from the Chief Minister's office said. Hospitals that are not treating coronavirus patients will be made available for those needing medical assistance, it added.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Monday said the low-pressure area formed over the Arabian Sea has intensified into a depression and it will further intensify into a cyclonic storm in the next 36 hours.
It said the cyclonic storm will cross north Maharashtra and south Gujarat coasts late in the evening on June 3.
The cyclone could not have at a worse time for Maharashtra and Mumbai. Mumbai crossed 40,000 cases of COVID-19 and the state crossed 70,000 cases on Monday. While nearly 45 per cent of those cases have recovered the state has also reported 2,362 deaths with the mortality rate at 3.37 per cent.