As Cyclone Burevi nears the Kerala coast, the state, especially its southern coastal belt, is on high alert. The tropical cyclone is about to hit the southern tip of India a week after Cyclone Nivar had caused significant damage in many parts of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
Cyclone Burevi – named by the Maldives – is about 70 kms west-northwest of Mannar and 230 km east-northeast of Kanyakumari, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said in its latest update at 4 pm on Thursday. The coasts of both, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, have been put on alert with the cyclone expected to make landfall late on Thursday. As per the latest update on Thursday afternoon, the cyclone is expected to move over Tamil Nadu's Pamban over the next three hours.
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has released a list of things to be kept in mind to cope with a cyclone, including anchoring heavy objects nearby, removing dead branches of trees nearby, keeping lanterns and non-perishable food at hand, among others.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said that the state is ready to face any situation with there being a possibility of heavy rainfall and wind till Saturday. The precautionary measures taken by the state have been discussed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Five districts have declared a red alert and dams have also been opened as a precaution. Twelve flights to Chennai, Kochi and Tiruchirappalli have been cancelled.The state has started a control room, reachable at 1077.
Heavy rains have started in Pamban and Dhanushkodi in Tamil Nadu. Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Alappuzha, Idukki and Ernakulam districts will receive heavy rainfall and wind which could persist till Saturday.
In Thiruvananthapuram district, people living in high risk areas have been shifted to safer places. About 180 such camps have been set up which can accommodate 11,050 people. The precautionary measures, including relocation, are progressing in collaboration with the local self-governing bodies.
Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Kottayam and Idukki districts will receive winds of up to 60 kmph. In these districts, low-lying are are prone to floods and high ranges are prone to landslides and landslips. People living in such areas have been shifted to safer places, including relief camps.
Seven teams of the NDRF have been deployed at various locations in the state alongside two Indian Navy vessels. Four aircrafts are on standby to provide Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations. Fishermen have been asked to not venture out in the open seas.
The Chief Minister has reminded the public that the state has overcome calamities with the cooperation of the people. He appealed for unity at this time too. The state has been witness to natural calamities in three consecutive years, including the Cyclone Ockhi in 2017, floods in 2018 and 2019 and a series of landslides 2019 and 2020.
After the cyclone in 2017, which wrecked the southern coast of Kerala, the state government had declared that a special coastal warden with a focus on the fishermen community would be appointed. It was also a tribute to the community who played a vital role in 2018 flood rescue operations. In June 2019, the first batch of coastal police wardens had passed out. The first batch included 177 members, and has five women.
The coastal police wardens have been entrusted with the responsibility of guarding coastal territory along with providing rescue operations. The force had also been trained for sea patrolling and for the inspection of boats seen in suspicious circumstances.
With Kerala’s coastal becoming increasingly unsafe over the years, the government had introduced a housing project for the fishermen who have been living on the coastal belt. The Ockhi cyclone had further hampered the situation of the fisher-folk.
In November 2018, as many as 192 families of fishermen, who had lost their houses were handed over a modern apartment complex in Valiyathura. Two more such projects by the state government are underway at Muttathara and Adimalathura.