Coastal Maharashtra braces for cyclone Ockhi side-effects

Mumbai, Dec 4 (IANS): With cyclone 'Ockhi' expected to make a landfall in south Gujarat later on Monday or early Tuesday, Maharashtra went on a state of high alert to tackle the side-effect of the stormy weather.

Maharashtra Education Minister Vinod Tawde announced a "precautionary holiday' on Tuesday (December 5) for all schools in the coastal districts of Palghar, Thane, Mumbai, Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg, in view of the predictions for the cyclone.

After a heavily overcast day on Monday, Mumbai and surrounding districts had intermittent rainfall since dusk which continued, slowing down road traffic but the lifeline of the city, the local trains continued unhindered.

The IMD has already forecast rains with thundershowers in and around Mumbai with squalls reaching 50-60 kmph and touching 70 kmph in the coastal areas over the next two days, with minimum temperatures hovering around 23 degrees Celsis.

Danger signals LC-III have been hoisted over all ports between Goa to Dahanu (north Maharashtra), with rough to very rough conditions in the sea.

The BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation and the state Disaster Management Unit and the railways were fully geared for the cyclonic encounter expected over the next couple of days.

Western Railway PRO Ravinder Bhakar said that an emergency meeting of all departments was convened and they will remain on the water levels on the railway tracks, the Railway Protection Force and commercial staff will monitor crowd movements, especially in the areas of Palghar which have been placed on alert.

"Disaster Management Cell is in readiness for any emergencies, patrolling of the railway tracks has been intensified over various rail sections, and the RPF and commercial staff will be prepared for necessary evacuation at respective stations in case of any disaster-like situation," he said.

Technical teams will monitor railway assets and essentials like electricity supply with back-up diesel generators, signal and telecom, breakdown equipments, accident relief trains or accident relief medical vans, etc are on standby for any eventuality.

The BMC has warned people from venturing close to the coastal areas and beaches as high waves are expected in the Arabian Sea owing to the cyclone conditions.

On Tuesday, the high tide will be of 5.04 metres and on Wednesday it will be of 5.05 metres, gradually receding to 4.17 metres by Thursday, said a BMC official.

The BMC has also warned people living in some parts of south Mumbai and suburbs that the possibility of tidal waves flowing into the roads and homes cannot be ruled out and asked them to take adequate precautions.

On December 6, more than half a million followers from all over India are expected to pay homage to the late Babasaheb R. Ambedkar on his 62nd death anniversary at Shivaji Park in Dadar.

The civic officials have requested the followers to stay away from the Dadar Chowpatty beach in view of the stormy seas expected over the next few days, especially at his memorial, Chaityabhoomi which is on the seashore.

Meanwhile, all the BMC disaster units, Mumbai Police, Fire Brigade, the Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard, Home Guards and other agencies are in full preparedness for any eventuality arising out of the cyclone Ochki as it skirts Maharashtra and is expected to make landfall near the diamond and textile city of Surat in the next few hours.

Fishermen in the seas have been advised to return immediately and others told to keep off the sea for the next two days.

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Title : Coastal Maharashtra braces for cyclone Ockhi side-effects


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