NEW DELHI: As Gujarat and Diu are braving to face "very severe" cyclone Vayu, Home Minister Amit Shah Wednesday said authorities have evacuated about 3.1 lakh people living in the low-lying areas and the NDRF has pre-positioned 52 teams for rescue and relief operations. Shah also said the Indian Coast Guard, Navy, Army and the Air Force units have also been put on standby while aircraft and helicopters are carrying out aerial surveillance. Cyclone Vayu has changed its course slightly and would now hit Gujarat coast anywhere between Veraval in the south and Dwarka in the west on Thursday afternoon.
"Gujarat has evacuated about 3 lakh people and Diu has evacuated over 10,000 people from low-lying areas to safer places...(the) MHA is in continuous touch with state govts/UT and central agencies. The NDRF has pre-positioned 52 teams equipped with boats, tree-cutters, telecom equipments etc," Shah tweeted.
The home minister said cyclone Vayu is expected to cross the Gujarat coast between Porbandar and Union Territory Diu and he "prays for the safety of the people". An alert has been sounded in 10 districts of Gujarat as cyclone Vayu has turned "very severe" and its impact is expected to remain strong for 24 hours even after its landfall Thursday, officials said.
As many as 52 teams of the National Disaster Management Relief Force (NDRF), comprising around 45 rescuers each, have been moved to the state, while 10 columns of the Indian Army have been kept on standby. Warships and aircraft of the Indian Navy have been kept on standby as well. A general alert has been sounded across 10 district in Gujarat as wind speeds are likely to touch 170 km per hour, a Home Ministry official said.
Cyclone Vayu has turned into a "very severe" cyclone and it is expected that its impact will continue to be strong for 24 hours even after its landfall, the official said. Normally, a cyclone becomes weak after its landfall.
Residents of some of the Gujarat districts have been asked to move out to safer places or cyclone shelter centres. Meanwhile, Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba Wednesday chaired a meeting of the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) where preparation for relief and rescue operations were discussed threadbare.
The NCMC meeting took stock of the precautionary measures taken by the Gujarat government and the Diu Union Territory administration with a view to ensure that no human life is lost, damage to vital infrastructure is minimised and to ensure early recovery of all essential services post-cyclone landfall.
Diving and rescue teams and relief material have been kept on standby for rendering assistance to civil authorities, as required, another official said.
Medical teams and facilities at the Indian Naval hospital in Mumbai are on standby to handle medical emergencies. Both the administrations have also been advised for timely evacuation of people from the low-lying coastal and vulnerable areas.
The Gujarat and Diu administration are evacuating about three lakh people from the identified vulnerable areas and they are being shifted to around 700 cyclone and relief shelters.
The Railways has cancelled 70 trains and will short terminate 28 others due to Cyclone Vayu, the Western Railways said Wednesday. "Considering the alertness for Cyclone Vayu over Gujarat, the Western Railway has decided to fully cancel operation of 70 mainline trains, while 28 other mainline trains will be short terminated with partial cancellation as a precautionary measure in the cyclone prone areas.
"In addition to this, various safety and security precautions are also being taken by the Western Railway for train passengers of these prone areas under the jurisdiction of WR -- Veraval, Okha, Porbandar, Bhavnagar, Bhuj and Gandhidham," the railways said in a latest bulletin. Veraval-Amreli Passenger, Amreli-Junagadh, Delvada-Veraval are some of the trains that have been cancelled on Wednesday and Thursday.
The Western Railway has also decided to run relief special trains. Two such evacuation special trains are scheduled to be run in Rajkot division and one in Bhavnagar division to clear passengers of coastal area affected by the cyclone. The first special train ran from Okha at 6 pm on Wednesday for Rajkot with 11 coaches and the second special train with 20 coaches ran from Okha to Ahmedabad at 8.05 pm. The third special train ran from Veraval to Ahmedabad with 11 coaches at 8 pm Wednesday.
Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited (APSEZ) said Wednesday it has suspended vessel operations at its Tuna and Mundra Port in Gujarat for next 24 hours in the wake of cyclone Vayu hitting the state. Further, APSEZ will also continue to monitor development at Dahej and Hazira Port.