Hours After CM Orders Return of Evacuees, Centre Says Cyclone Vayu May Hit Gujarat Coast at Kutch - News18

New Delhi: A top Union Ministry of Earth Sciences official on Friday said that cyclone Vayu is likely to recurve and hit Kutch on June 17-18, hours after Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani announced that the storm posed no threat to the state as it had moved westward.

Cyclone Vayu was to hit the Gujarat coast on Thursday, but it changed course on the intervening night of Wednesday and Thursday. It skirted the Gujarat coast, affecting Gir, Somnath, Diu, Junagarh and Porbandar.

"Vayu is likely to recurve on June 16 and hit Kutch on June 17-18," said M Rajeevan, Secretary of the Ministry of Earth Sciences.

The intensity of the very severe cyclonic storm is also likely to reduce, Rajeevan said, adding that it may hit the coast as a cyclonic storm or a deep depression. He said the Gujarat government has been alerted about the possible recurvature of the cyclonic storm.

Speaking on the India Meteorological Department's latest weather report, Ahmedabad Meteorological Centre Additional Director Manorama Mohanty, however, said it was too early to predict if the cyclone will recurve and hit Kutch or Saurashtra.

"The report says it may recurve in the next 48 hours. But it is also possible it may weaken by then and dissipate in the sea itself. Thus, it is too early to predict that it will come back and hit the Kutch coast," she said.

Gujarat Chief Secretary JN Singh said authorities were monitoring the situation and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams would continue to be stationed along the coastline for the next 48 hours.

"Even if it comes back to Kutch or Saurashtra after 48 hours, the system may have weakened significantly. However, we are alert. If something happens on June 17 and 18, we're ready for that. NDRF teams are also there for the next 48 hours. We have not called them back," he said.

After meeting officials in Gandhinagar earlier on Friday, Gujarat Chief Minister Rupani had said, "Gujarat is now completely safe. There exists no threat from cyclone Vayu now as the storm has veered towards the west in the Arabian Sea. Around 2.75 lakh people, who were evacuated from the coastal areas, are free to return to their homes."

He added that the state government would pay a total allowance of around Rs 5.5 crore to the evacuees for daily expenses over the next three days.

"Schools and colleges will start tomorrow. We are also calling back senior officials and ministers, who were deployed in 10 coastal districts to supervise relief and rescue operations. Road transport buses have started plying in these areas today," Rupani had said.

The cyclone, while not making landfall in Gujarat, brought moderate-to-heavy rains to 114 tehsils, the highest rainfall of 6.5 inches (160mm) being recorded in Talala tehsil of Gir-Somnath district since Thursday, a Met department release said.

Trains cancelled, power generation affected

The Railways on Friday said that services of more than 180 trains were affected over the last two days, with over 132 trains to Gujarat being cancelled. Till Thursday, 88 mainline trains were cancelled and 40 were scheduled to be short terminated over the Western Railway.

"On June 14, 44 more trains were cancelled and 14 more were short terminated in view of cyclone as a precautionary measure taken by western railway in view to safeguard the interests of passengers," according to a statement issued by the railways. Till now, 186 trains have been fully cancelled and 54 trains short terminated, it added.

Meanwhile, power generation from over a dozen plants of Gujarat State Electricity Company Ltd (GSECL) were shut for two days due to a drastic drop in demand amid the cyclonic storm, an official said on Friday.

These GSECL-operated plants, numbering 15, are located at Gandhinagar in North Gujarat, Wanakbori in Central Gujarat, Ukai in South Gujaratand Sikka near Jamnagar in the

Saurshatra region, he said.

The coal-fired plants were shut down for generation on June 11 and 12 as electricity transmission and distribution were impacted due to the cyclone, which eventually moved away from the Gujarat coast, the official from GSECL told PTI.

The disruption in transmission and distribution led to a sudden decline in demand for power, leading to the temporary closure of these plants, he said.

As against the average daily demand of 18,000 MW in the past few days due to heatwave conditions, June 11-12 saw requirement for about 11,000 MW when the cyclone was moving towards the state, he said.

"There were some disturbances in electricity transmission due to the cyclone but were attended to in time. Required load and generation were managed in a balanced manner so as to secure stable transmission frequency," he said.

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