The people of Gujarat and the state administration today heaved a sigh of relief as Cyclone Ockhi dissipated over the Arabian Sea, sparing the poll-bound state. The cyclone was yesterday headed towards Gujarat after leaving a trail of destruction on the southern Indian coast. The cyclone yesterday passed the Mumbai coast and much to the relief of the people in Maharashtra’s capital, it just brought rains and there was no loss of life or damage to property. As per an early morning release by the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the cyclonic storm first turned into a ‘deep depression’, then into a ‘depression’ and finally into a ‘low pressure’ area after midnight. “The depression over east-central and adjoining north-east Arabian Sea weakened into a well-marked low pressure area over east central Arabian sea and adjoining areas of north-east Arabian Sea, north coastal Maharashtra and south coastal Gujarat at 23:30 hours yesterday,” the release said. The cyclone dissipated over the sea before hitting the Gujarat coast, said Jayanta Sarkar, the director of the MeT Centre here.
“The cyclone did not reach Surat at all. It dissipated into the sea before making a landfall on the southern coast. From deep depression, it became a depression, then became a well marked low pressure. Now, it is just low pressure. It may bring light to moderate rain in some parts of state today,” said Sarkar. As per the IMD release, the sea condition would be rough along and off south Gujarat and adjoining north Maharashtra coasts during the next 12 hours. “Fishermen along and off north Maharashtra and south Gujarat coasts are advised not to venture into sea during the next 12 hours,” the release said. Till last evening, there was a fear that Cyclone Ockhi may hit Gujarat coast by midnight. However, the cyclone lost its strength and turned into a ‘deep depression’ when it was around 240 kms away from Surat.
The cyclone later turned into a ‘depression’ when it was still away from the coast and gradually weakened into a well marked low pressure by this morning. To face the eventuality in view of the cyclonic storm, the state government deployed teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) in several parts of south Gujarat and Saurashtra.
The government also alerted the Air Force, Coast Guard and Navy. Amid his busy poll campaign schedule, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and state chief secretary J N Singh rushed to Surat yesterday to oversee the relief operations. Around 1,600 people were also shifted to safer locations, as a precautionary measure.