Visakhapatnam: The busy roads and junctions that have witnessed massive protests across 13 districts of Seemandhra ever since Congress led UPA's coordination panel gave a go ahead for state bifurcation to carve out Telangana on July 30, are now wearing a deserted look since Friday.
Thanks to Phailin and giving a much needed relief to the state government, the government staff have got back to work as good Samaritans to take part in relief and rescue operations. Thousands of Non Gazetted Officers (NGOs) and revenue staff members have also resumed their work to extend their help in case the super cyclone hits the AP coast hard. It was the NGOs who have spearheaded the stir starving without salaries since August. The state leadership has been relentlessly persuading the striking government staff to call off their stir since they launched it but in vain.
In short, the cyclone threat has slowed down the two month long Samaikyandhra stir, which had paralysed the administration across Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra.
Control rooms have been opened across the three districts of north Andhra- Srikakulam, Vizainagaram and Vizag that are close to Odisha, where Phailin is expected to cross the coast.
Though the city is hundreds of kilometers away from Odisha coast and there will not be any direct impact of the cyclone, the news about the severity of the cyclone has led to people cancelling their weekend plans in Vizag. They have started stocking essentials, ration and fuel too in case the cyclone affects the power supply.
Met officials predicted heavy to very heavy rains with the possibility of inundation of a few low lying villages on the coast in Vizag district. They have also warned fishermen not to venture into the sea.
While many panic stricken people preferred to stay back at their homes to track the cyclone over TV or on the internet, scores of enthusiastic youngsters brushed aside warnings by the government agencies and rushed to the beach to see the high tides and waves which are going up as high as 5 to 7 meters. Police has had a tough time managing and controlling the crowds.
All the major industries located in Vizag are also ready with backup plans by keeping fuel and generators ready. These industries have just started limping back to normalcy after experiencing the brunt of power blackout due
to the total work strike of electricity staff. Vizag port had sounded a high alert and shifted many ships close to the inner harbour to minimize
the damage likely to be caused due to the wind speed, high tide and under water currents.
People in Srikakulam, especially those belonging to Kavitia and Santhabommali mandals, have been left shivering in fear and are recalling the days when the super cyclone hit them in 1999.
Low lying villages that are likely to be affected by Phailin in all the three districts have been identified. As part of the contingency plan, district officials readied many buildings, mostly government schools, to provide shelter to the people of these villages.
National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams from 10th battalion of Guntur army columns have been posted at reached Vizag, Viziangaram and Srikakulam. Each NDRF team contains personnel who are trained to handle chemical, biological and nuclear mishaps besides natural disasters.
The Eastern Naval Command (ENC) of the Indian Navy has assumed the highest degree of readiness to render all necessary humanitarian assistance. Two
Indian Naval ships including the Landing Platform Dock INS Jalashwa are also on stand-by. INS Jalashwa is the second largest combatant of the Indian Navy and is equipped to undertake Humanitarian Aid Distress Relief (HADR), evacuation, logistic support and hospital ship operations.
Both the ships have been poised with additional divers, doctors, inflatable rubber boats, integral helicopters and relief material that include food,
tentage, clothes, medicines, blankets etc, in quantities sufficient to sustain over 5000 personnel for three days. Six advance diving teams with inflatable boats, rescue material and satellite communication have also left for
Odisha by road and will operate from INS Chilka, 50 km north of Gopalapatnam, where the cyclone is expected to make landfall.
With cyclone Phailin, united Andhra protests and power blackouts striking the residents of the state one after the other, the festive spirits of Navaratri-Durga Puja have been hugely hit.
(Kranti is a guest contributor for IBNLive reporting from Visakhapatnam on Phailin.)