Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government will decide on the evacuation of people from low-lying areas in 12 coastal districts after the recurve process of Cyclone Amphan on Sunday evening, Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) Pradeep Jena said.
“We are waiting for the latest forecast of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) on the recurve of the cyclonic storm which will take place in the evening. After the recurve, we will take a call after IMD issues the hourly bulletin at 9 pm. We expect that the IMD will provide us the latest storm surge analysis this evening. On the basis of the analysis, we will further fine tune the vulnerability mapping,” Jena said.
Stating that the state has 542 unused cyclone shelters, the SRC said 1072 additional buildings have been identified in the 12 coastal districts of Ganjam, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak, Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Jajpur, Cuttack, Khurda, Nayagarh and Gajapati to accommodate the evacuees if their number goes up.
He said out of the total 809 cyclone or multipurpose shelters in 12 districts, 242 are now being used for COVID-19 purposes while the rest 567 are vacant. Besides, 7,092 other buildings have been identified which can be utilised as temporary shelters. “We have told the collectors of these 12 districts to remain prepared for the evacuation of people and we will tell them to begin the evacuation after the recurve of the cyclonic storm,” he said.
The SRC, however, added that unlike previous cyclones in the state where the evacuees were kept in as many numbers in a single cyclone shelter, if will be different this time as the state government has to keep about 11 lakh evacuees under the social distancing norms as per the COVID-19 guidelines.
“This is for the first time that the state government is dealing with the health crisis in the wake of the outbreak of COVID-19 and a natural disaster. As we have given more priority to COVID-19, we will need more building to be used as cyclone shelters to keep the evacuees in strict adherence to the social distancing norms,” Jena pointed out.
Asked about the return of migrant Odia workers from other states, he said in view of the approaching cyclonic storm, the state government will stop road movement for three days from the evening on May 18 to May 20. The district collectors have been asked to direct the border check posts not to allow any person in during the period.