NEW DELHI: The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has earmarked its highest-ever number of teams for deployment in Odisha and West Bengal as part of its preparations for the impending cyclone Yaas, a senior officer said on Tuesday.
The federal contingency force has committed a total of 112 teams for deployment in five states and the Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands which are expected to be affected by the cyclone developing in the Bay of Bengal.
Out of these, the highest the number of 52 teams are designated for Odisha followed by 45 teams for West Bengal.
The rest of the teams are being stationed in states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand and the UT of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
NDRF Director General S N Pradhan said in a tweet that this was this was the “highest ever” commitment of its teams in the two states of Odisha and West Bengal.
A senior official said the number of NDRF teams earmarked for these two states during past cyclones have never been this high.
Teams in these two states can also be enhanced if the states require or situation demands, he added.
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Cyclonic storm Yaas is likely to make a landfall near Balasore in north Odisha sometime around Wednesday noon.
It can possess a speed of 155 kmph-165 kmph, gusting to 185 kmph, the Met department had said on Monday.
Each NDRF team has 47 personnel who are equipped with tree and pole cutters, communication gadgets, inflatable boats and basic medical aid.
These teams, along with various disaster combat and mitigation units, are presently carrying out evacuation and awareness drives in the affected areas so that no lives are lost, the senior officer said.
Pradhan had told PTI on Monday that at least 50 more teams have been kept as backup at its various country-wide bases and they can be airlifted for cyclone Yaas duties as and when required.
The two power utilities of West Bengal on Monday claimed that they are better prepared for Cyclone Yaas, which is likely to hit the state and Odisha on May 26, than they were before last year’s storm, Amphan.
The state-owned West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (WBSEDCL) and private utility CESC Limited, which supplies power to Kolkata and adjoining areas including Howrah, said they aim to minimise inconvenience to consumers.
“This year we are better prepared than the time of Amphan. Then we had a shortage of manpower as many of them had gone to their hometown due to the lockdown during the first wave.”
“But this year we have 2,500 people on the ground, which is more than double that we had last year,” CESC Vice President (Distribution) Avijit Ghosh said.
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He said that it will keep restoration gangs at police station levels and ward levels across CESCs network.
Some 20 per cent of the network of CESC is overhead, which is more prone to disruptions.
The number emergency facilities have gone up this year as Covid-19 vaccine cold chain centres and temporary Covid points have been set up, Ghosh said.
“We will try to ensure uninterrupted services,” he said.
The coordination with other agencies like the police and the Kolkata Municipal Corporation is better this time following the experience of Cyclone Amphan which had hit the state in June last year.
A WBSEDCL official said that priority will be given to the restoration of power lines to the medical establishments such as hospitals, safe homes, vaccine storage areas, drinking water lines, mobile towers and crematoriums.
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Leaves of all employees have been suspended, and at least three gangs will be deployed at each block of the state under its distribution area, the official said.
Both CESC and WBSEB set up emergency call centres to receive complaints.
For CESC, the numbers are 3501-1912/4403- 1912/18605001912.
The dedicated numbers of WBSEBs round-the-clock control room are 8900793503 and 8900793504.