BMC puts off lockdown relaxation decision as MeT predicts heavy rain, strong gusts in Cyclone Nisarga

Updated: Jun 02, 2020, 16:31 IST | Team mid-day | Mumbai

BMC puts off lockdown relaxation decision to focus on another impending crisis as weathermen predict heavy rain, flooding, winds for city, other parts due to cyclone

The city received a few showers on Monday even as it gears up for heavy rainfall over the next two days. Pic/Ashish Raje
The city received a few showers on Monday even as it gears up for heavy rainfall over the next two days. Pic/Ashish Raje

It seems to be an unending wait for Mumbai to get some relief in terms of lockdown relaxations, as the city faces uncertainty over cyclonic storm Nisarga that is expected to cross the north Maharashtra coast on June 3. Even if the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation issues its guidelines for unlocking the city today, implementation will happen only after the storm passes. While the state government has prepared its disaster management plan, all coastal cities and districts of the state have been put on high alert.

It was expected that the BMC would issue its order by Monday evening, but the plan was put on hold due to a cyclone warning. According to reports, the cyclone will hit the city tomorrow. While a meeting of top BMC officials was held on Monday, the civic body will take some time to issue the guidelines. "The order may be out on Tuesday but its implementation may be put on hold till Thursday due to the uncertainty over the cyclone approaching the state," said a civic official.

Second delay
Meanwhile, shops and small businesses opened up on Monday for cleaning and maintenance. Some of the ward offices asked shopkeepers' unions to give suggestions on opening of shops on alternate days. This is the second time that the BMC has delayed issuing guidelines. On May 3, after the state government allowed wine shops to open up, the BMC took two days to issue a circular preventing any non-essential shops from functioning.

 BMC might issue its unlocking guidelines today, but implementation will happen only after Thursday depending on what the situation is after the cyclonic storm. Pic/Ashish Raje
BMC might issue its unlocking guidelines today, but implementation will happen only after Thursday depending on what the situation is after the cyclonic storm. Pic/Ashish Raje

Meanwhile, the state government has prepared its disaster management mechanism to face cyclone Nisarga.

All coastal cities and districts — Mumbai, Thane, Palghar, Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg — have been put on high alert. The state disaster management cell, relief and rehabilitation department, Coast Guard, Indian Navy, Air Force and Army, National and State Disaster Management Relief, state police, weather department and all other agencies concerned have been placed in coordination with each other. District collectors have been directed to monitor and coordinate with the state government, said Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray in a communication. A control room in Mantralaya will coordinate relief and rescue measures. Fishermen have been called back from the sea.

Preparations reviewed
In a video-conference with Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Thackeray reviewed the preparations. Shah said that the NDRF teams posted in non-coastal states would be sought for Maharashtra. However, nine NDRF and six SDRF teams have already been deployed in vulnerable parts of the state. The slums located on hilltops and slopes have already been evacuated.

Thackeray has asked all non-COVID hospitals to be prepared to serve the cyclone-hit people. The CM further said that the temporary COVID-19 hospitals that have been built on open spaces would be under close watch and the inmates had been shifted to safer hospitals. He added that more beds and power generators would be made available for medical emergencies. Power companies have been asked to ensure uninterrupted electricity supply.

BMC gears up
Meanwhile, the BMC has asked all ward officials to check pre-monsoon work and ensure that everything is at a safe stage. They have also been instructed to keep dewatering pumps ready in case of water-logging.

The Disaster Cell of the BMC has been put on alert and will be coordinating operations. The Mumbai Fire Brigade has been put on high alert and life guards have been deployed at all beaches from Girgaon to Gorai with jet keys and other safety devices. A fire brigade official said that a back up of 130 lifeguards would be there at all the fire stations in the western suburbs.

NDRF teams deployed
Speaking to mid-day, second command in chief, NDRF, Sachitanand Gavade said, "The NDRF is in touch with the R&R department of the state government, IMD authorities and district administration. The teams are conducting a survey in the coastal areas along with the local authorities. This cyclone comes with a unique challenge, as it is happening during the COVID-19 pandemic. But NDRF teams are trained and equipped to deal with the double disaster. We have also upgraded our SOPs to respond to the situation. We have three teams in Mumbai and a total of nine across the state. We are working in close coordination with MCGM. Teams will be deployed as per requirement. Teams will be deployed as per requirement."

Nine
No. of NDRF teams deployed across the state

80
Expected windspeed in kmph in parts of city on Tuesday

130
No. of lifeguards kept as back up

'City hasn't faced this in a long time'

Sharing through an email, Prof Adam Sobel, atmospheric scientist at Columbia University, said, "Mumbai has not been affected by cyclones in its modern history. The city has experienced severe floods of course, but these were not due to cyclones. In recent years, many tall buildings have come up in the city, and I don't know to what extent they have been designed for the strong winds of a cyclone."

NDRF deployment

. 3 teams in Mumbai
. 2 teams in Palghar
. 1 team each in Thane, Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg

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