Chennai: A combination of factors — divine as well as man made — resulted in reduced number of casualties in Tamil Nadu due to the very severe cyclonic storm Nivar that crossed the state and neighbouring Puducherry’s coast on Wednesday night and Thursday early morning, said a senior state government official.
“God was kind as the wind speed was a bit less. Further, the lessons learnt from earlier cyclones by the government as well as the people enabled reduction in loss of lives and property,” Gagandeep Singh Bedi, Principal Secretary, Agriculture Department and also the nodal officer for Nivar-related works for Cuddalore district told IANS.
Three persons were killed and an equal number injured as the very severe cyclonic storm Nivar wreaked havoc in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry on Thursday.
On its way the cyclone also damaged several houses, uprooted trees and power lines in Tamil Nadu’s Cuddalore, Marakkanam and in Puducherry also.
A total of 101 houses, including thatched huts and tiled houses were damaged by cyclone, the Tamil Nadu government said.
According to the government, about 380 trees were uprooted by Nivar and a 34-acre banana plantation in Cuddalore was damaged.
About 1,600 hectares of paddy were also damaged due to the rains.
The state government also said that 26 cattle had died in the storm.
According to Bedi, lots of awareness was created about Nivar and the safety precautions to be taken.
“Lot of relief camps were set up in the areas that would be affected by Nivar. People living in the low lying areas were shifited to relief camps. Sufficient quantites of ration were supplied to the the relief camps so that people will not have any hesitation to come to the camp on account of food,” Bedi said.
“In Cuddalore alone over 50,000 people had food at the relief camps,” Bedi said.
About 2.27 lakh persons have been housed in 3,085 relief camps set up in the state.
Bus services that were stopped from November 24 afternoon ahead of the cyclone in seven districts.
Bedi said, the state control room functioned round the clock without rest to receive and pass on the necessary information.
As regards restoration of power supplies, Chief Engineers of the power utility were deputed to oversee the operations so that power supplies are restored fast.
Similarly, excavators were hired in advance to be used for rescue works in a timely manner.
“Ham radio operators were also roped in. In Cuddalore there is a FM radio and it was used to spread the message. Further teams from National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were also there in good numbers for rescue efforts,” Bedi added.
In the coastal towns, fishing boats were secured to safety well in advance in order to avoid damages to the boats.
On his part Chief Minister K.Palaniswami chaired a review meeting on Nov 23 and announced the precautionary measures to be taken by the district administration and also the general public.
Subsequently on Nov 25, Palaniswami despite the rains, went to the Chembarambakkam reservoir and oversaw the opening of the sluice gates to reduce the water levels as a precautionary measure.
Unlike in 2015 when huge quantity of water was released from the Chembarambakkam reservoir resulting in Chennai getting flooded and several lives lost, this time around the administration was alert and did not want a repeat of the episode that happened five years back.
The government administration came for praise on Thursday after the Nivar crossed the coast with fallen trees being removed since early morning.
Similarly, power supplies were also restored quickly in places where the supplies were disrupted.
Palaniswami told reporters that the government’s precautionary measures resulted in reduced loss of life and damage to property.
He said Minister for Revenue and Disaster Management and Information Technology R.B. Udhayakumar was at the state control room day and night and continuously monitored the situation.
By Venkatachari Jagannathan