Even as news comes that the Ockhi cyclonic system has weakened and is most likely to fizzle out in the sea itself before crossing near Surat, the Gujarat government has been prepapared for the consequences of it hitting the coast of Surat. “Rapid improvement in weather is likely from tomorrow,” said Dr Jayanta Sarkar, director of India Meteorological Department.The cyclonic system was stationed 390 km away from Surat in the south-west direction on Tuesday evening. It was estimated to reach Surat district’s coast and could cause a deep depression, after which the intensity of the cyclone would decrease.Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Chief Secretary Dr JN Singh had already left for Surat to watch over the situation. The givernment had also taken measures to safeguard agricultural produce such as cotton and groundnut stored at state warehouses. Signal 3 was been issued at all ports and all operations have been suspended. All vessels and ships were anchored and exploitation of oil at offshore stations were also stopped.On Tuesday, Singh held a meeting regarding preparations for rescue and relief work. He also gave directions to the district administration through video conference. “Winds can blow at a speed of 60-80 km per hour and parts of the state will receive rainfall,” state revenue secretary Pankaj Kumar said.”Around 7,000 salt pan workers from Bharuch have been shifted to safer places while 900 families from 29 villages in Surat district also have been relocated. Around 13,000 boats that went fishing have returned; only 1,000 are stilll at sea and we are trying to trace them. Of the remaining boats, 700 are from Dwarka, and the rest from Mangrol and Jafrabad ports,” he added.The election commission has also been supervising how to deal with the situation once Ockhi hits. Polls are to be held in south Gujarat and Saurashtra on 9 December – places where Ockhi’s intensity is likely to remain highest in the state. The state has deputed six National Disaster Response Force and two State Disaster Response Force teams for the relief and rescue work. The Army, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard has also been co-ordinating with the government. More than 13 lakh awareness text messages have been released by the government.Chief electoral officer in Gujarat, BB Swain said, “The cyclone will have no effect over the poll schedule but we have been taking extra care. We have directed all district collectors to make the EVMs under safe locations and polling booths have been equipped with the rain proof shades. We have also ensured transportation of polling staff and polling equipments, including EVMs, in closed vehicles to avoid damage. We are in constant touch with the meteorological department and have been given to understand that intensity of cyclone is likely to be lowest on polling day.”
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Ockhi to fizzle out in sea, won’t affect Surat