OdishaPlus Bureau

As Cyclone Fani – peddled to be India’s severe – most May cyclone in the last four decades – inches closer, the state government has braced itself to limit the damage that would bring in.

Odisha is likely to bear the brunt of the cyclone and expectedly, coastal districts will suffer the most. Since the landfall is expected to be somewhere near Puri, the Odisha government has requisitioned additional teams and helicopters to assist them in evacuating people who will be affected.

Fani Pic

“We have requested the cabinet secretary to position two helicopters for air-dropping of relief material. Besides, we have asked for additional NDRF teams to carry out the rescue operation,” Odisha chief secretary AP Padhi said.

According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD)’s latest forecast, Cyclone Fani has moved north-westwards with a speed of about 10 kmph in last six hours and lay centred about 680km south-southwest of Puri.

The Joint Typhoon Warning Centre issued a forecast on Wednesday saying that Cyclone Fani is expected to make landfall at Balukhanda near Puri coast on May 3 afternoon.

State and national authorities have already put Odisha on alert against rough weather conditions, particularly in 12 districts of Ganjam, Gajapati, Gopalpur, Khurda, Bhubaneswar, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Rayagada, Kendrapara, Bhadrak, Jajpur, Paradip and Balasore.

A Skymetweather report says: ‘with extremely severe cyclone Fani preparing to make landfall, rains would increase by manifolds. Coastal areas would see heavy to extremely heavy rains, wherein few places might see rains reaching up to 200 mm as well. Damaging winds would be at peak with speed of 175-185 Kmph, gusting up to 205 kmph at the time of crossing the coast. Sea tides would be high between 12 ft to 18 ft above the astronomical tide, leading to flooding. Sea conditions are expected to be rough to very rough all along the coast of Odisha and we advise complete suspension of fishing activities.’

The next 48 hours are important for the authorities as the Cyclone will re-bend north-north-eastwards.  The Indian Meteorological Department has predicted that cyclone ‘Fani’ is likely to cross Odisha through Satpada and Balukhand area in Puri district during the afternoon hours of May 3. After landfall, it is likely to move to Khurda, Cuttack, Jajpur, Bhadrak and Balasore districts of Odisha and then enter to West Bengal.


Although Odisha is has witnessed several cyclones in the past hundred years, pre-monsoon cyclones are a rarity. The last time a pre-monsoon storm hit Odisha was on May 26, 1989.

While Fani reminds one of the October 1999 Super Cyclone, Phailin which hit the coast in October 2013 was competently handled. In a way, Odisha has come a long way since 1999 and disaster management has been adjudged the best in the country. Hopefully, the Odisha government will be able to deal with the situation arising out of Fani’s impact.

fani pic


Cyclones are dodgy because of their unpredictability. For example, Cyclone Titli – that hit Andhra Pradesh coast in October 2018 – changed its direction and moved towards the northeast after making landfall killing 61 people, many of them in tribal-dominated Gajapati district besides wreaking colossal damage.

According to latest reports, the evacuation process will begin from Thursday morning and that people from the low-lying areas will be taken to nearby cyclone shelters, schools and other safe places. As many as 879 cyclone shelters are kept ready, 20 unit of the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) and 335 fire services units are also on standby.


While the Odisha government issued orders for moving thousands of people on the coastline to the multipurpose cyclone shelters, the Coast Guard and Indian Navy deployed ships and helicopters for relief and rescue operations. The National Disaster Response Force is deploying 28 teams in the vulnerable areas of the state.

Meanwhile, the government has asked all tourists in Puri to leave the beach town by Thursday evening and told tour operators to cancel non-essential travels ahead of the landfall of Cyclone Fani.Special relief Commissioner Bishnupada Sethi said, ‘district administration in Puri has been asked to empty hotels immediately. Sethi said all educational establishments in the state would be closed from beginning from May 2 and all the examinations rescheduled till further orders.’

The director of Bhubaneswar’s Regional Meteorological Centre HR Biswas has said Odisha is likely to receive more than 20cm of rainfall due to Cyclone Fani.

H R Biswas

The Election Commission has meanwhile lifted the model code of conduct from 11 districts in the path of the cyclone for speedy rescue, relief and rehabilitation activities. The poll body took the decision to lift the code in Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak, Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Gajapati, Ganjam, Khordha, Cuttack and Jajpur after chief minister Naveen Patnaik met the EC during the chief election commissioner on Tuesday.

The Skymetweather report further says, ‘Fani would have moved further north towards West Bengal and weakened as well by Saturday. Thus, the weather over Odisha would improve. We expect only light rains at few places but strong south-westerly winds in the order of 60-70 kmph gusting to 80-90 kmph would continue along the coast.’