How India’s Odisha state is preparing to battle the worst cyclone in two decades

The perfect storm.
The perfect storm.
Image: Reuters
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India’s Odisha is bracing for the worst cyclonic storm in 20 years.

Cyclone Fani (pronounced foni) has intensified in the Bay of Bengal and is barrelling towards the state of Odisha. It is expected to make landfall in the city of Puri tomorrow (May 03), bringing heavy showers to the states of Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, too, over the weekend, according to the India meteorological department (IMD).

Though much weaker than the 1999 super cyclone that claimed 8,000 lives in Odisha, authorities are not leaving anything to chance with Fani. India has come a long way since then with “one of the best weather prediction systems globally,” claims Madhavan Rajeevan, secretary at the ministry of earth sciences. 

The state government of Odisha aims to evacuate around 800,000 people to safety. Around 879 cyclone centres have been set up to shelter evacuated people, according to chief minister Naveen Patnaik.

Meanwhile, the Indian Navy, coast guard, and 78 teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been requisitioned for deployment. Over 30 additional teams are on standby with boats, tree cutters, telecom equipment, officials have reportedly said. 

Schools and colleges in Odisha will remain shut for three days starting May 1 till May 3. Indian Railways has cancelled over 100 trains in the region.

The eastern coast of India is no stranger to cyclones. On an average, up to six significant cyclonic storms emerge in the Bay of Bengal region every year. In October 2018, Odisha evacuated 300,000 people when its coastline battered by Cyclone Titli