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Bengaluru: Cyclone Tauktae will reach the state’s three coastal districts by Saturday night and the administration is prepared to tackle the situation and to carry out relief and rescue operations, two senior Karnataka Ministers have said. They said heavy rains are expected in coastal and neighboring districts and the effect of the cyclone is expected to be there till May 18.

“Cyclone Tauktae is likely to gain intensity by this evening or night in our coastal areas. three coastal districts (Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Uttara Kannada) are likely to witness heavy rains, and also neighbouring four to five districts like Chikkamagaluru, Hassan, Shivamogga, Kodagu,” Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai said. Speaking to reporters after the meeting with the state disaster management team and officials, he said authorities have taken several precautionary measures and the Revenue Minister has given required instructions to Deputy Commissioners of the coastal districts.

“District administrations and police departments are on alert. NDRF and SDRF teams are also on alert to face the situation and come to the rescue of people,” he said adding NDRF teams are in Mangaluru and Kodagu and SDRF team is in Udupi. Noting that the cyclone is currently centered over Lakshadweep at 200 km from Karnataka’s coast and will reach Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Uttara Kannada by tonight, Revenue Minister R Ashoka said its speed is 60-70 km per hour and according to forecast available for now its effect will be till May 18.

Warning has been given to fishermen not to venture into the sea till May 18, he said adding: District administrations have been ordered to shift people from low-lying areas and alertness is being shared with the Deputy Commissioners constantly for the last three days. Eight relief camps have been set up in three districts that can accommodate about 10,000 people where food and other basic amenities will be made available, he said, adding that government officials in the three districts have been ordered not to take leave.

Ashoka also said a total of about Rs 95 crore is reserved with the district administrations for utilization to mitigate the situation arising out of Cyclone Tauktae and come to the rescue of people in need. Udupi has Rs 23 crore, Uttara Kannada 60 crore and Dakshin Kannada 12 crore.

Stating that all the necessary equipment that were procured recently, boats and vehicles have been deployed to tackle the situation, Bommai said around 1,000 trained personnel from fire force, police, coastal police, home guards, SDRF have been deployed in the three coastal districts and they will work with coordination in rescue and relief operations. A total of 434 men are there under SDRF, Bengaluru and Kalaburgai teams are being sent to Udupi and Mangaluru, he said adding directions have been given to recruit ex-army personnel also.

“All the necessary preparations have been made to face one Tauktae. Our personnel are already in the districts and are working with the district administrations under the directions and coordinations from the state’s disaster management team,” he said, adding that more NDRF teams have been sought, two teams are expected. Responding to a question, Bommai said if there is heavy rainfall, landslides are likely in hilly areas.

He said, “Some fishing villages are on the seaside in the coastal districts, walls have been constructed to avoid sea erosion but still waves are coming and have damaged some houses. People are being shifted to safe areas following COVID norms.” Facing this cyclone along with COVID is a double challenge to the coastal districts, and necessary arrangements have been made, he said, adding: “Wee expect not much damage as we have made preparations keeping in mind our past experience.” .

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