With a depression in the Bay of Bengal intensifying and likely to take the shape of a cyclonic storm in the next two days, Odisha government on Wednesday asked the Union Home Ministry to keep helicopters ready for rescue and relief operations.
The depression over the north Andaman Sea might intensify into a deep depression and a cyclonic storm by Wednesday, an official release said.
"Prediction as of now indicates that the system may make landfall on October 12," Special Relief Commissioner Pradip Kumar Mohapatra told reporters.
"Depending on the situation, the state government may require the assistance of defence forces especially the Indian Air Force for rescue and relief operations by air," Mohapatra said.
The Ministry of Home Affairs and the National Disaster Management Authority have been requested to make advance arrangements to keep in readiness IAF helicopters and NDRF personnel at short notice, he said.
The MHA, NDMA and other departments have been told to remain prepared for a possible cyclonic storm, he said.
"We have asked the collectors of 14 districts severly hit in the super cyclone in 1999 to remain alert. We should not take any chance," Mohapatra said. Mohapatra said the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force, the NDRF 3rd battalion at Mundali near Cuttack, besides fire service units have been put on alert for evacuation, search and rescue operations.
The districts alerted were Balasore, Bhadrak, Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Dhenkanal, Jajpur, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Cuttack, Puri, Khurda, Nayagarh, Ganjam and Gajapati. The districts have been advised to immediately convene a meeting of the District Disaster Management Authority to review preparedness and take necessary measures.
Meanwhile, distant cautionary signal number one has been hoisted at Paradip and Gopalpur ports. Fishermen have been warned to return from rough to very rough seas off the coast after 48 hours.