Chennai: Severe cyclone 'Nivar' would intensify into a very severe cyclonic storm and is likely to cross the coast between Tamil Nadu and Puducherry before dawn on Thursday, the India Meteorological Department said.
Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K. Palaniswami declared Thursday a public holiday for 13 districts including Chennai, Vellore, Cuddalore, Villupuram, Nagapattinam, Tiruvarur, Chengelpet and Kancheepuram keeping the safety of people in mind given the cyclone. Wednesday has already been declared a holiday.
In its latest bulletin, the IMD said Nivar would cross over betwen Karaikal and Mamallapuram “during the midnight of November 25 and early hours of 26 November.”
With rains drenching parts of the state, authorities have evacuated over one lakh people and housed them in shelters besides disconnecting power supply in vulnerable areas as a precautionary measure.
Revenue Minister R. B. Udhayakumar said 1,03,291 people, including children, have been housed in 1,000 relief centres.
Food, water and all other essentials including masks to help prevent COVID-19 have been made available to them in the relief centres, he said.
A senior official subsequently said that the number has increased to 1,21,152.
According to the government, these people have been housed in shelters at Ariyalur, Chengelpet, Chennai, Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, Perambalur, Ranipet, Thanjavur, Tiruvannamalai, Tiruvarur, and Villupuram districts.
As a precautionary measure, electricity distribution was stopped to consumers in several regions falling under such districts and especially areas that have overhead power transmission lines witnessed a power cut since noon.
Civic authorities meanwhile removed banners and hoardings in several districts including Chennai and Vellore expecting squally winds.
Police personnel placed barricades in arterial roads and important intersections in coastal districts to bar movement of vehicles and the government appealed to the people to stayindoors.
Chennai airport authorities said Aircraft operations at the airport will remain suspended from 7 pm on November 25 till 7 am on November 26.
The decision was taken considering the safety aspect of passengers and the severity of the approaching cyclone, they said.
Southern Railway said eight trains including the Danapur - KSR Bengaluru Special were diverted skipping Chennai and 10 trains including the Chennai Central-Coimbatore Special were cancelled.
The Chennai Metro Rail, which operated minimum services, said operations would end by 8 pm and services would resume tomorrow depending on the weather.
The storm, 250 kms off Chennai and 190 kms and 180 kms from Puducherry and Cuddalore respectively, is very likely to move northwestwards and cross coasts as a “very severe cyclonic storm with a wind speed of 120-130 kmph gusting to 145 kmph.”
Under the influence of the cyclone, coastal and north interior Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Kariakal regions are likely to receive rainfall on Wednesday at most places with heavy to very heavy showers at a few places and extremely heavy rains at isolated places.
South coastal Andhra Pradesh is also likely to witness showers at most places today. Rainfall is expected to continue in many places in these regions Thursday too with heavy rainfall at some places.
Surplus water was released from Chembarambakkam lake, one of the key drinking water sources to the city, since it almost neared its capacity, the government said.
The union territory of Puducherry has been experiencing intermittent moderate rains since Tuesday night under the influence of the cyclonic storm.
PWD officials said 1000 cusecs was released from the lake as the level stood at 22 feet of a total 24 feet.
Chennai and its suburbs, which received heavy overnight rains, continued to witness intermittent showers coupled with strong winds with low-lying areas getting inundated and water entering houses in such localities.
Civic body officials were involved in clearing the roads of stagnant water.
The Tamil Nadu government appealed to people living in coastal districts to not venture out of their homes and requested those living in low lying areas to reach the cyclone shelters in their respective regions.