Cloud formation over Bhubaneswar on Wednesday that threatens a wet Puja. Telegraph picture
Bhubaneswar, Oct. 9: This Puja, pandal hopping or spending quality time with family members will elude the state government officials in the 14 coastal districts — blame it on the cyclonic storm brewing in the Bay of Bengal.
The state government today cancelled Puja holidays of the employees and asked them to be on high alert in the face of the cyclonic threat.
The districts that have been put on high alert following cyclone warning are Balasore, Bhadrak, Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Dhenkanal, Jajpur, Cuttack, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Puri, Khurda, Nayagarh, Ganjam and Gajapati.
Revenue and disaster management minister Surjya Narayan Patro warned that any official defying government orders and proceeding on leave in these districts would invite action. “Senior officials will take action in such cases,” the minister said.
The Met department has predicted that the deep depression, presently centred 950km off Paradip coast near Mayabunder, is likely to intensify in the next 12 hours.
Chief minister Naveen Patnaik has held an emergency meeting at the state secretariat to review the situation. Sources said he had also spoken to the concerned district collectors through videoconferencing.
The district administrations have been asked to stock up food material, including beaten rice, to counter any kind of emergency, while the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force teams armed with mechanised saws and other cutting implements are on the standby.
“When the cyclone strikes, a large number of trees get uprooted blocking roads and lanes. The rapid action force personnel are well equipped to immediately remove such obstructions from the roads. We are also deploying medical teams in all the districts to deal with emergencies,” said an official.
Special relief commissioner Pradipta Mohapatra said mock drills were being performed to tackle any emergency situation in the districts likely to be hit by the cyclonic storm.
Apart from the deployment of rapid action force personnel, the state government would also activate around 50 satellite phones to ensure that the district officials in these areas remain in constant touch with the state headquarters.
The storm prognosis was grim with weatherman saying it was moving in a west-northwestwards direction and likely to cross north Andhra Pradesh and Odisha coast between Kalingapatnam and Paradip on the night of October 12. By this time, it might turn into a very severe cyclonic storm with a maximum wind speed of 175 to 185 kmph.
The Devi this time departs on an elephant, signalling rain. But the depression near the Andamans on the Bay of Bengal is unlikely to wait for Dashami as it gains strength.