Several district collectors in Tamil Nadu have declared holiday for schools and colleges on Thursday as the cyclonic storm Gaja over the Bay of Bengal lay at about 470 km south east from Chennai and is set to make landfall between Cuddalore and Pamban in the evening bringing heavy rainfall to the state. Besides Tamil Nadu, all educational institutions in Puducherry and Karaikal regions will remain closed in view of the cyclone.
The Tamil Nadu government has already declared that 30,500 rescue personnel are on standby. The district collectors of Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, Pudukottai, Nagapattinam, Cuddalore and Ramanathapuram have declared holiday for schools and colleges.
Gaja that lay over southwest and adjoining southeast and west central Bay of Bengal is about 550 km north east of Nagapattinam and is very likely to cross coast between Pamban and Cuddalore on Thursday evening or night with a wind speed gusting upto 100 kmph, the Met office said.
Against the backdrop of the Central Water Commission advising constant vigil over dams, Tamil Nadu Revenue Minister RB Udayakumar told reporters that dams, lakes and rivers channels were being monitored continuously.
The CWC had advised action as per the Standard Operating Procedure as heavy rainfall in catchment areas could fill up the dams fast in less than 24 hours.
On Wednesday, Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy held a review meeting with officials of various departments at Thirunallar in Karaikal district and took stock of the preparedness.
The Chief Minister directed the district authorities to keep stock of relief materials. Urging officials to ensure supply of protected drinking water to all areas, Narayanasamy said if needed he would camp in Karaikal to coordinate the activities. Three teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have arrived here to provide emergency assistance.
The IMD has advised fishermen not to venture into sea.
The IMD said the system was likely to weaken gradually and cross Tamil Nadu coast between Cuddalore and Pamban as a cyclonic storm on November 15 forenoon.
Damages to thatched huts and houses likely
# The IMD also warned of major damage to thatched huts and houses.
"Roof tops may blow off ...damage to power and communication lines," it said adding standing crops could also be hit and cautioned sea water intrusion in low lying areas.
# The Central Water Commission asked Tamil Nadu and Kerala authorities to maintain strict vigil at various dams which come under the "cyclone field" and are already 80 per cent to 91 per cent full.
Puducherry also likely to be hit
# Neighbouring union territory of Puducherry, which is also covered by the cyclone alert, said it is on high alert as well and precautionary steps are being taken to meet the situation.
# Puducherry Revenue and Industries Minister MOHF Shah Jahan said the union territory has been put on high alert.
(With PTI inputs)