Cyclone Nisarga: Maharashtra, Gujarat, Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli have been put on high alert as some parts of these two states and the union territories fall on the path of the cyclone that developed over a low pressure area over the Arabian Sea.


Mumbai/ New Delhi, June 3:

Severe cyclonic storm Nisarga – the second to strike India in two weeks – made landfall on the Maharashtra coast near Alibaugh at around 1 pm. The storm is expected to weaken into a cyclone in a few hours. With wind speeds slowing down, coronavirus-hit Mumbai may have escaped the worst of the tropical storm. No damage has been reported from the financial capital where movement of people is restricted in public places like beaches, parks and promenades along the coastline till tomorrow afternoon. Flight operations have been suspended at the city’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport till 7 pm. Besides Maharashtra, Gujarat, Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli were put on high alert due to the cyclone that developed over a low pressure area over the Arabian Sea.

Here are top 10 developments on Cyclone Nisarga:

Tropical storm Nisarga made landfall this afternoon near Alibaug, a popular getaway about 100 km from Mumbai, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) chief SN Pradhan tweeted, along with some dramatic clips that show trees swaying, electricity poles toppling amid strong winds and heavy rain. Very strong winds uprooted trees near the beach, blocking roads.

An important setting in colonial history, Alibaug reported wind speed of 93 km per hour this afternoon. The tropical storm – likely to weaken into a cyclone in the next six hours – crossed the coast with wind speeds of 100-110 km per hour, gusting up to 120 km per hour, the weather department said.

Forty-three teams of National Disaster Response Force or NDRF have been deployed in areas expected to be affected along Maharashtra and Gujarat coasts. One NDRF team consists of 45 personnel. “The evacuation is nearly complete. Those in shelters are being trained for life skills and social distancing is being ensured. All preparations are in order. Let’s hope we safely ride through the cyclone,” NDRF chief SN Pradhan said in a video message this afternoon.

In Maharashtra, more than 40,000 people have been moved to safety, news agency PTI reported. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday appealed to the people of the state to “stay indoors” for two days. “The cyclone could be more severe than the ones the state has faced till now,” Mr Thackeray said. With over 70,000 COVID-19 cases, the state is the worst-hit in the country by the pandemic.

Mumbai’s civic body Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has put out a list of dos and don’ts for citizens, urging them to stay away from windows, check for gas leaks and keep mobile phones charged. “Dial 1916 and Press 4 for any cyclone-related questions. Ignore rumours, stay calm, don’t panic,” the BMC said. The Banda-Worli sea link in the city has been closed for traffic and rescue teams are on standy near coasts.

A storm surge – as high as two metres (three to 6.5 feet) above the astronomical tide – was predicted by the IMD. The weather department predicted heavy rain and flooding in Mumbai, Thane, Pune and Palghar.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s Office (CMO) on Tuesday listed some of the measures that were being taken. These included evacuating those staying in thatched huts. Non-COVID-19 hospitals have been instructed to prepare for any medical emergencies. The state is also taking measures in case of breaks in electricity supply and to secure the nuclear power plant in Palghar district.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday tweeted: “Took stock of the situation in the wake of cyclone conditions in parts of India’s western coast. Praying for everyone’s well-being. I urge people to take all possible precautions and safety measures (sic)”. In a tweet, his office later said that PM Modi spoke to Maharashtra Chief Minster Uddhav Thackeray, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, assuring all possible help from the centre.

The civil aviation regulator – Directorate General of Civil Aviation or DGCA – on Tuesday cautioned airlines about the dangers of operating during monsoon and stormy conditions. Air and rail traffic has been disrupted due to the storm.

Cyclone Nisarga is the second to strike India’s coasts in nearly two weeks. Last month Cyclone Amphan, one of the worst storms to have formed over the Bay of Bengal in recent years, struck Bengal and parts of Odisha, killing nearly 100 people and affecting lakhs. Bengal Chief Minister estimated the damage done at ₹1 lakh crore.