Nisarga swirls towards Maharashtra, concerns at nuclear, chemical units (LEAD)

Mumbai, June 2 (IANS) As the Cyclone Nisarga whirls towards Maharashtra at a steady pace, concerns have been expressed, here on Tuesday, about the nuclear and chemical plants that would come in its direct path.

The cyclone is expected to make landfall late Tuesday night or early Wednesday.

“Care is being taken to prevent power outages. Precautions are being taken at chemical units and nuclear power plants in Palghar and Raigad,” Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said in an update on the cyclone.

While Palghar has the country's oldest Tarapur Atomic Power Plant complex and other power units, Mumbai has the BARC setup and Raigad houses power, petroleum, chemicals and other major industries, besides the Mumbai Port Trust, the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust and vital installations of the Navy.

As a precautionary measure, people living in non-pucca houses are being shifted to safer locations and slum-dwellers in low-lying areas been asked to evacuate. As many as 50 patients were relocated from the Bandra Kurla Complex Covid-19 hospital to the Goregaon NESCO hospital during the day.

Ten National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) units have been deployed for rescue operations and six more kept in reserve. A 24×7 control room has been operationalised and the army, navy and air force and IMD have been instructed to ensure coordination.

The Western Naval Command (WNC) said it was geared up for emergency response during heavy rain and flooding due to the cyclone Nisarga, along with five flood rescue and three diving teams that would be in place throughout the monsoon.

The state government has implemented stringent measures along the coastal Konkan region along with Mumbai in view of the approaching cyclone.

The IMD has issued ‘red alert' for June 3 for Mumbai, Thane, Raigad, Palghar, Nashik, Dhule, Nandurbar. It will continue on June 4 for Palghar, Dhule and Nandurbar. Alerts have also been issued for Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts.

The IMD Mumbai said the depression over the east-central Arabian Sea moved northwards at 11 kmph speed during early Tuesday and intensified into a deep depression around 5.30 a.m. around 280 km west-southwest of Goa and 490 km south-southwest of Mumbai.

“It is likely to intensify into cyclonic storm during the next 12 hours and further into a severe cyclonic storm during the subsequent 12 hours (June 3),” the IMD bulletin said.

The storm is expected to move towards north and recurve north-northeast later to cross north Maharashtra and south Gujarat coast between Harihareshwar (Raigad) and Daman by Wednesday afternoon.

The IMD has advised DC-I signal at all ports in north Maharashtra and hoist signal No. LC-III at all ports in south Maharashtra and Goa.

Apart from Thackeray, other ruling allies — the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party — have also urged people to stay indoors during the expected cyclonic storm.

The cyclone may strain the security forces already burdened by the Covid-19 pandemic duties in the worst-hit Mumbai Metropolitan Region – most falling in the coronavirus red zone – in nearly three months now.

The IMD Mumbai has also forecast “very heavy rainfall and extremely heavy rainfall in isolated places” in Mumbai and districts of north Konkan, even as drizzles or light showers have continued to soak Mumbai, Thane, Palghar, Raigad since Monday.



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