Cyclone Fani

As early as April 21, IMD predicted the likelihood of a low pressure area in the Equatorial Indian Ocean and south Bay of Bengal. It kept a close watch on the situation and by April 25, it started issuing special three hourly bulletins with latest forecast. Fishermen were asked not to venture out into the sea. The depression intensified into Cyclone Fani on April 27, became a severe cyclonic storm by April 29 and a very severe cyclone on April 30. As it developed near the Equator, it spent days over the sea gathering power and moisture before it struck Odisha with all its ferocity on May 3. 

It left a trail of devastation - uprooted trees, fallen power lines, damaged infrastructure, battered vehicles, mangled electricity wires, blocked roads, scattered debris, disrupted communication networks and cancelled flights and trains. More than a crore people in a total of 14 districts in the State were affected. Summer crops, orchards and plantations were devastated. Despite the massive cyclone that Fani was, it could kill only 38 persons. A similar cyclone in 1999 in Odisha had killed more than 10,000 persons. This time, the difference lay in improved forecasting, aware communities, and an alert State administration. 

As soon as it became evident that the cyclone would make its landfall in Odisha, more than 15 lakh people were evacuated from vulnerable areas and put into cyclone shelters. National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams were deployed as well as kept on standby.

Indian Coast Guard and Navy deployed ships and helicopters for relief and rescue operations. Army and Air Force units were also put on standby.

Massive awareness campaigns asking people to follow safety instructions were run through radio and TV besides announcements at public places. National Disaster Management Authority's Social Media channels started disseminating information from the moment IMD talked about the low pressure area. It also widely published Do's and Don'ts for the general public for before, during and after the cyclone.

A pro-active government machinery from the Centre extended all possible support and help. Union Cabinet Secretary Shri P. K. Sinha on April 29 chaired a meeting of the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) to take stock of preparatory measures for the impending landfall of Fani. The meeting was attended by senior officials from NDMA and concerned Ministries/ Agencies. 

Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal participated through video conference. All stakeholders were directed to put preparedness and response measures in place. In fact, the NCMC continued to meet on a daily basis for some time to ensure that the State is up and running as soon as possible.

India's 'zero casualty' policy towards cyclone management has drawn praise from far and wide. In her tweet, UNISDR's Mami Mizutori called India's approach to managing extreme weather events as a major contribution to the implementation of the Sendai Framework. Global media is also applauding the swift and efficient management of Cyclone Fani.

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