New Delhi: Union Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba on Friday reviewed preparedness in view of cyclone ‘Bulbul’ through video conferencing with the government officials of Odisha and West Bengal, stated news agency ANI. Others who were present at the meeting were principal secretaries & secretaries of the concerned departments.

As a precautionary action, the state government has advised the administrative machinery to remain ‘fully prepared’ to deal any kind of contingency. Although the possibility of the cyclone hitting the coastal Odisha is minimal, the state government was alerted to brace for heavy to very heavy rainfall in its coastal and northern districts in the next two days.

Meanwhile, India Meteorological Department officials noted that the cyclonic storm ‘Bulbul’ which is currently centred over the west-central and adjoining east-central Bay of Bengal, about 310 km south-southeast of Paradip, has intensified into a very severe cyclonic storm. The cyclone also brought rainfall to several parts of coastal Odisha and its adjoining areas.

According to news agency PTI, director of Bhubaneswar Meteorological Centre HR Biswas on Friday said that cyclone Bulbul may move towards West Bengal and Bangladesh coasts, skirting Odisha. Currently, it is moving at speed of 13 kmph and it may intensify further by Saturday, added Biswas.

“The storm is expected to have a maximum sustained wind speed of 110 to 120 kmph, gusting up to 135 kmph, while crossing the coast,” a senior IMD official was quoted by news agency PTI as saying.

Meanwhile on Friday morning, several parts of Jagatsinghpur, Puri and Kendrapara witnessed heavy showers, with Odisha Special Relief Commissioner PK Jena asking the district collectors, mainly in the coastal and the northern region, to keep adequate arrangements in place to deal with possible waterlogging and flood-like situation.

Port authorities in Paradip have also taken steps to combat the storm, Jena said.

Officials have been told to ensure total suspension of fishing operations from Friday. Farmers have also been advised to take steps to protect crops and harvested paddy.

All schools and Anganwadi centres remained closed for the day in Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara and Jajpur districts in view of the rough weather.

Jena said the schools would continue to remain shut on Saturday in nine vulnerable districts, including Puri, Khurda, Bhadrak, Balasore and Mayurbhanj.

Two teams of Odisha Disaster Rapid Action force (ODRAF) and one of the National Disaster Response Force are on standby in each of these districts, while adequate fire services personnel have also been deployed in these areas for necessary operations, the special relief commissioner added.

The IMD has issued ‘yellow warning’ (be aware) in Puri, Kendrapara Jagatsinghpur and Bhadrak districts over the next 24 hours. Similarly, for Saturday, it has issued an orange warning’ (be prepared) in Balasore, Bhadrak, Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur districts.

(With agency inputs)