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May 29, 2001 - May 29, 2001

Gujarat cyclone weakens, may hit today Tuesday, May 29, 2001

Tuesday, May 29, 2001 (Gandhinagar):

The severe cyclonic storm that was heading at a speed of 80 km per hour. It was expected to cross Gujarat coast early this morning but has weakened. In fact, the cyclonic storm weakened into a depression in the sea late last night about 50 kms from west and southwest of Porbandar.

MET officials say that the danger of a cyclone hitting Gujarat coast has passed. Parts of Gujarat have been lashed by heavy rains and met officials attribute it to local disturbance.
Source - NDTV

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Western Kutch braces up for the storm Tuesday, May 29, 2001

NALIYA(Kutch): The dust storms caused by winds coming from the Arabian Sea have reduced visibility to barely 50 meters in this town, located on the western tip of the country , where the desert meets the sea. It is cloudy , the seas are choppy and one can see a herd of around 60 camels swimming across to a mangrove island across the Jakhau port for their daily meal , unmindful of the cyclone brewing a few hundred kilometers into the horizon.

Camels and milch cattle were the main casualties in the cyclone which struck Nalia and Jakhau in 1999. The only human beings who died two years back were the 400 fishermen caught in the storm. Their bloated bodies were washed ashore. The cattle casualty was much higher - some 28,000 of them perished - as their owners had fled after tying them to wooden stumps .

Hundreds of fishing boats have anchored in Jakhau which , till a week back, was a throbbing port bustling with activity. There is not a soul in sight except the camels in the sea. Only a couple of boats of the Navy and BSF Water Wing patrol the area. All the fishermen have returned following the warnings and many of them now evacuated from low lying areas to camps in-land. The 1999 cyclone had just kissed the western shores of Kutch . Towns like Lakhpat , Naliya , Jakhau and Abdasa were under wait deep water within a matter of few hours.

Sgt. R K Bogra of the Air Force base in Naliya recalls that even the IAF station was under waist-deep water two years back and hundreds of people from Jakhau and Naliya had taken shelter in the Air Force school building. They stayed there for almost a week till waters receded from their homes. The IAF buildings may once again become safe havens for the people as the earthquake in January has weakened many of the buildings in these western Kutch towns. "We are always here to help people , our command headquarters has told us to extend all the help possible", says Sgt. A K Singh.

But unlike in Bhuj , where the administration has deployed vehicles mounted with loud-speakers to go around warning the people about the cyclone, there is no such activity in Naliya or Jakhau which face much graver danger. People are still relying on radio and television to give the latest information and wild rumours about the cyclone already striking Jamnagar are floating around.

Mamlatdar D R Ashari however informs that some 1700 persons have already been evacuated from villages like Dhuvai, Chasi, Khuwado, Maniawan, Mohado, Bhudi and Waghod. He said some 25 state transport buses arrived in the afternoon to take out more people from the coast. A BSF company was also expected to arrive by evening. Naliya town is teeming with hundreds of SRP jawans who are aimlessly wandering around . Its a sort of lull before the storm strikes.

News Source : Times Of India News Service [ Lightning News ]

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Cyclone heading straight for Dwarka Tuesday, May 29, 2001

AHMEDABAD: The cyclone has taken the dreaded north-easterly turn and was heading right for the town of Dwarka on Monday evening. The 'alert' issued by the meteorology department a week ago turned into a 'warning' on Monday with the cyclone poised to strike the Gujarat coast between Porbandar and Naliya in the early hours of Tuesday.

In fact, scattered heavy showers lashed parts of Porbandar, Veraval and the coastal town of Una during the day, accompanied by high-speed winds.The cyclone was located 125 kilometers west-southwest of Porbandar late on Monday evening with wind velocities ranging between 70 to 80 kilometers per hour. The weatherman said the cyclone had enough intensity to damage kutcha houses and break tree branches.

Porbandar city was plunged into darkness from Sunday night itself. A Taiwanese fishing trawler, anchored off its all-weather port, is on the verge of sinking.The entire coastal belt from Diu to Koteshwar was lashed by strong winds in the evening.

The meteorological office said the cyclone, which had wind speeds of 70 to 80 kmph, curved in a north-easterly direction around 9 pm on Monday it was poised to hit the Gujarat coast somewhere near Dwarka.

Met office director R K Kankane said there would be heavy rain accompanied by squally winds in the coastal areas of Junagadh, Jamnagar, Porbandar and Kutch districts in the next 24 hours. The tides would rise 1.5 to 2 metres over normal levels.

The seas have become increasingly choppy off the western Saurashtra region and also in the Gulf of Kutch where many ports have shut down operations. The cyclone advanced about 200 km over the past 24 hours and was steadily moving northwards.

"We have been warned by the meteorology department that the wind velocity of the cyclone would increase once it hits the coast," relief director B R Patel said, adding that the state of alert continued to operate in the districts of Kutch, Porbandar, Jamnagar and Junagadh, as also parts of Rajkot.

Patel said State Reserve Police (SRP) battalions which had been stationed earlier in Rajula, Alang and Dholka had now been moved to Kutch as the threat in the Gulf of Cambay had receded.

A spokesman for the South-Western Air Command (SWAC) of the Indian Air Force in Gandhinagar said nine helicopters and five Avro aircraft were on stand-by by at the IAF base in Vadodara to carry out relief operations.

The state government, on its part, said massive evacuation of people living 30 km from the coast in areas between Veraval and Nalia had been launched.

The district authorities have so far evacuated around 15,000 fishermen and salt pan workers, mostly from the coastal areas of Mandvi, Mundra, Bhachau, Abdasa, Lakhpat and Bhuj.

After the meteorological office issued the cyclone warning around 11 am, chief secretary L N S Mukundan held an emergency meeting of senior officials and reviewed the precautionary measures taken thus far as well as overall preparedness.

As per instructions from the meteorological office, signal no. 7 has been hoisted at ports between Dwarka and Veraval, signal no. 5 between Jakhau and Okha, and signal no. 3 at ports between Kodinar and Umergaon.

Deputy collectors equipped with satellite phones have already left for the coastal areas of Porbandar , Kutch and Jamnagar districts. Teams of HAM radio operators have also taken position at Kandla and Koteshwar ports.

News Source : Times Of India News Service [ Lightning News ]

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‘Golden route’ may turn dusty Tuesday, May 29, 2001

Ahmedabad, May 28
The scene at thousands of wetlands throughout Gujarat would be different this winter, they might not have the same numbers of migratory birds as visitors due to the two successive droughts.

Gujarat falls in the “golden route” of migratory birds. Lakhs of birds travel all the way from Northern hemisphere in winter to warmer countries like India and go upto Malaysia to escape the severe cold of the north.

Mr Lalsinh Rawal, an expert on migratory birds says “Gujarat is on the ‘golden route’ of the migratory birds, so in every winter, from September, flocks of migratory birds like cranes, flamingos, weaders and waterloos start pouring in the state. They settle down in all the major or minor water bodies through out the state every year. Most of them are water birds and they create a beautiful environment in many places during the winter.”

Mr Rawal, who has studied these migratory birds since last 40 years and has written four books on birds, said that this birds are very interesting as they come to know about the availability of food and safety aspect before they come down to spend the winter at a wetland.

Ashok Mashru is associated with the survey and census of migratory birds on wetlands since last five years for a Malaysian based magazine. He said that for last two years the migratory birds have been rarely spotted in and around Rajkot due to successive years of droughts resulting in drying up of wetlands.

They have not been able to carry out the survey of birds in and around Rajkot since last two years, he added. Two years of successive droughts can be a “body-blow” for the next season also, if it does not receive normal rain this year, opines an expert. Mr Rawal said that three successive droughts from 1975 to 77 proved to be disastrous for the Ranjitsagar Lake situated near Jamanagr.

Thousands of migratory birds were seen in the lake area before drought. However, the lake completely dried out in the drought, withering even the vegetation, which is food of these birds, he added. ``After that the lake never had the same number of birds until 1999’’, he added on the effect of drought.

Though Mr Rawal said that big lakes like Nal Sarvoar in Ahmedabad district and Narayan sarovar in Kutch and some other lakes do not face this problem as some amount of water is always there in these lakes. However, all the medium and small sized wetlands of the state, which have completely dried up, would take a little time to once again attract these birds, he added.

News Source : The AsianAge Ahmedabad Edition [ The coolest Newspaper for city ]

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Sealed food joints reopen Tuesday, May 29, 2001

Ahmedabad: Except Sukh Sagar Hotel that had procured the health renewal certificate by forgery, all the hotels including Oswal that were sealed by the health department of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation in last 15 days have reopened after the giving written confirmation to the corporation for following health laws.

The health committee chairman Narendra Brambhatt said this step was taken after a thorough checking of the premises by the health officials including the deputy municipal commissioner (health) Pinakin Dixit.

Talking to the press, Mr Brambhatt said that all the six theatres sealed on Sunday did not have the AMC health license either. However, he added that in all about 8,000 establishments are running without the health license in the city. While the establishments are not allowed to run without the health license, it is not practical to expect all these units to close down.

News Source : The AsianAge Ahmedabad Edition [ The coolest Newspaper for city ]

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