Representational image | Photo: Munir Uz Zaman|AFP
Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala government has announced a public holiday for 5 districts on Friday as the state remains on high alert with heavy rains expected when cyclone Burevi makes landfall.
The districts are Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha and Idukki. The holiday will not be applicable to disaster management, essential services and election duties.
Moreover, the Thiruvananthapuram International airport will remain shut for eight hours from Friday morning and over 2000 relief camps have been opened.
The district administration here has opened 217 relief camps and 15,840 people have been shifted there from disaster-prone areas.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan reviewed the situation and asked people to exercise extreme caution till the storm passes.
Pinarayi Vijayan, who chaired a high level meeting with senior officials this evening, also informed Union Home Minister Amit Shah about the steps being taken by the state to face the situation. Shah assured all assistance, Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters.
The IMD has predicted that the course of the storm will be through the border areas of Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam districts and the government, along with various departments and the Army, were ready to face the contingencies, he said.
The Thiruvananthapuram International Airport will remain closed on December 4 from 10 Am to 6 PM, district collector Navjot Khosa said.
Pinarayi Vijayan said at least 2,891 relief camps have been opened in various parts of the state and emergency centres have been opened at district-level and from adequate number of doctors to enough stock of medicines, were ready in the health sector to meet any emergency situation.
As many as 177 people living in plantation settlements in the hilly Ponmudi area, about 61 km from the capital city, have been shifted as a precautionary measure to two schools.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD), in its latest bulletin, has said Burevi may make its landfall in Kerala on December 4 and has issued red alert (heavy to very heavy rains of over 20 cm in 24 hours) and cyclone warning for south Tamil Nadu and south Kerala coasts.
The IMD has predicted that Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Alappuzha, Idukki and Ernakulam districts would receive heavy rains and wind from December 3 to 5.
The Chief Minister, who met the media after a high-level meeting of the State Disaster Management Authority and other departments concerned, said telecom operators have been asked to set up a "communication on wheels" facility.
He also asked political parties and candidates of the local body polls to remove campaign boards which pose danger to the public.
"Burevi is near Mannar strait.By tonight or tomorrow morning it will make a landfall near Tuticorin. Its speed is expected to be 70-80 kmph.
As it travels through land, it is expected to weaken and form into a deep depression while entering Kerala. As per the IMD, its course is expected through the borders of Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam districts," Pinarayi Vijayan said.
Police, Fire and Rescue forces along with the NDRF teams have been deployed in the event of any emergency situation.
One team each of NDRF personnel have been deployed to the districts of Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Kottayam, Ernakulam districts and two teams in Idukki district, he said.
"We have requested the Air Force to keep ready the helicopter and the fixed wing aircraft. The Navy has been requested to station the vessels 30 nautical miles in the Arabian Sea and the Army and other paramilitary forces are also on standby," Pinarayi Vijayan said.
A defence press release said the armed forces stationed at Thiruvananthapuram were all set to face cyclone Burevi.
"As Cyclone Burevi is expected to make landfall by Friday morning across the Southern Districts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the Armed Forces stationed at Thiruvananthapuram activated their assets for facing the potential hazard.
Senior Officers from various armed forces met the Officials of the State Government, today and analysed the situation," the release said.
Twelve columns of soldiers each consisting of 25 Army personnel are ready at Pangode Military Station.
Mi-17 and Sarang helicopters and AN-32 aircraft are placed at Sulur Air Force Station, Coimbatore to face any emergencies. Coast Guard Station, Vizhinjam deployed two ships and two boats. Southern Air Command Headquarter at Akkulam and Air Force Station at Shangumugham are fully prepared to face any situation, the release said.
Naval and Coast Guard aircraft conducted sorties off the coasts of Thiruvananthapuram and Lakshadweep for overall surveillance and instructed fishermen to go back to the shore immediately.
The NDRF team, which had reached Kerala, has inspected the hilly regions and the coastal areas of Thiruvananthapuram.
(With inputs from PTI)