By Express News Service

VIJAYAWADA: With severe cyclone Nivar hurtling towards the south coast of Andhra Pradesh from the Bay of Bengal, the State government has sounded a high alert in all districts, particularly Nellore, Chittoor and the three other Rayalaseema districts.

In Nellore and Chittoor districts, there was no rain till late Tuesday evening, but the sky became overcast and the sea along the Nellore coast turned rough. National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) teams have been put on standby.

The IMD said Nivar, which lay centred at 430 km east-southeast of Chennai at 11:30 am on Tuesday, is very likely to intensify into a very severe cyclonic storm by Wednesday afternoon. It is likely to make landfall between Karaikal and Mamallapuram near Puducherry late Wednesday evening as a very severe cyclonic storm with a wind speed of 120-130 kmph gusting to 145 kmph. The Tamil Nadu government has declared a public holiday on Wednesday.

Extremely heavy rainfall is likely in isolated parts of Nellore and Chittoor districts on Wednesday, and heavy to very heavy rainfall in parts of Rayalaseema and coastal districts. The IMD has issued a red warning for Chittoor and Nellore districts on November 25 and for Kurnool on November 26. An orange warning was issued for Prakasam, Kadapa and Anantapur districts on November 25 and for Guntur, Prakasam, Nellore, Kadapa, Chittoor and Anantapur on November 26.

Heavy rain is expected in Kurnool, Guntur, Krishna, East Godavari, West Godavari and Visakhapatnam districts on Wednesday and in East Godavari, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam districts on Thursday.Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy told officials to take steps to prevent the loss of lives and property. He told them to advise farmers through Rythu Bharosa Kendras on how to protect their harvested crop.

IMD Amaravati head S Stella said gales with speeds of 65-75 kmph gusting to 85 kmph will be experienced in Nellore, Chittoor, Prakasam, Guntur and Krishna districts on Wednesday. As the sea will be very rough, fishing along the State’s coast has been suspended. Fishermen have been warned not to venture into the sea for two days, and those who ventured out are being advised to reach a harbour at the earliest. Thatched houses, huts, power and communication lines, kutch and some pucca roads are expected to get damaged due to high-velocity winds. Trees are likely to be uprooted, and horticulture crops such as banana and papaya are likely to be damaged. Embankments and salt pans are also likely to suffer damage. The NDRF headquarters and commandants of battalions in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh are working in coordination with the respective State authorities.

A total of 22 teams (12 in Tamil Nadu, three in Puducherry and seven in Andhra Pradesh) have been stationed at areas that are likely to be affected. Reserve teams are in Guntur, Thrissur (Kerala) and Mundli (Odisha). All teams are equipped with wireless and satellite communication devices, and tree/pole cutters. In view of the Covid-19 threat, the NDRF teams have PPE kits. Pointing out that most water bodies in the State are filled to the brim following heavy rains in October, the Chief Minister directed officials of the Irrigation department to ensure the bunds of reservoirs and tanks are not breached. “The situation at all water bodies should be monitored closely. Officials should enlist the services of village/ward secretariat staff and village/ ward volunteers. NDRF and SDRF teams should be on standby with men and material to take up rescue and relief operations. Measures should be taken to ensure restoration of power supply at the earliest in case of power interruption,” he said.

Instructing the officials to have teams prepared to clear uprooted trees at the earliest, the Chief Minister wanted control rooms to be set up in mandal headquarters along with district collectorates. Officials were asked to prepare SOPs to be adopted during cyclones. He also directed them to set up relief camps wherever necessary in Nellore, Chittoor and Prakasam districts. The administrations of all coastal districts deputed special officers to vulnerable mandals and kept rescue and relief teams on standby. The Kurnool district administration alerted all mandals and officials have been asked to closely monitor flood levels of the Tungabhadra and other water bodies, and evacuate people from low-lying areas if needed. The district administrations of Guntur, Prakasam, and the twin Godavari districts have initiated precautionary measures. In Guntur, 16 multipurpose rehabilitation centres have been prepared.

Officials of both south central railways and APSRTC are closely monitoring the situation and would take a call on rescheduling of their respective services depending on the situation. Flight operators like Indigo took to twitter to alert their passengers and said flights being operated to and from Chennai, Vijayawada, Rajamahendravarma and Tirucharapalle might be affected due to cyclone and in case of any cancellations or rescheduled of flights, passengers wil be informed through SMS or email. The Tamil Nadu government, which declared a public holiday on Wednesday, said all essential services will continue to function. Three ports in and around Chennai have stalled operations and raised a level-6 warning. The Southern Railway cancelled 14 pairs of trains run via Villupuram and Tiruchy on Wednesday. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami assured the public that there was no reason to worry.

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