Thiruvananthapuram: Despite knowing about the likelihood of a cyclone, the Kerala government failed to issue an alert or take precautionary measures, resulting in loss of lives and property. The damage to property is likely to run into crores of rupees.
The government lost four valuable hours after being warned about the cyclone. Though the government can try to get away saying that it didn't get any official information from the India Meteorological Department, the indifference from the side of officials concerned is clear.
It is understood that the chief secretary had handed over to the chief minister's office the message from the IMD saying that there is a chance for strong winds on November 28 itself.
This was ignored. There was another warning from the department saying that due to a depression along the Sri Lankan coast there is a possibility of winds as strong as 65kmph and the sea could get rough on November 29. It also advised fishermen not to venture into the sea.
It was clear on November 30 that the depression has changed directions and will pass through the Kerala coast. The satellite images showed that the depression will develop into a cyclone by 8am. The government took four hours to officially confirm the cyclone and complete other formalities to issue a warning. During this time, the disaster management authority under the revenue department too didn't bother to enquire about the cyclone or inform the government. Even the revenue minister came to know about the cyclone at 12 noon.
The government says that unless a cyclone is officially declared, it can't take any action. But, the precious four hours that the government lost despite being warned about the cyclone in fact worsened the situation. Authorities in Thiruvananthapuram district also came in for criticism for sending students onto the streets by declaring a holiday for schools after trees started falling in the heavy rain and winds in the afternoon.
• Nov 29, 2.30pm
Depression in Bay of Bengal near Sri Lanka's Hambantota coast. Chances of 55kmph wind 500km off Kanyakumari. Likelihood of high waves and rough sea. Fishermen should not go for fishing.
• Nov 30, 1.30am
Winds could reach 65kmph velocity. Depression located 270km southeast of Kanyakumari. No cyclone warning for Kerala.
• Nov 30, 8am
Depression turns into deep depression and moves towards Kanyakumari region. Cyclone warning for Lakshadweep. The deep depression moving to 170km southeast side. No cyclone warning for Kerala.
• Nov 30, 12noon
Depression becomes a cyclone; named Ockhi. Cyclone warning for Kanyakumari and Lakshadweep. The cyclone to pass through Kerala coast. Cyclone 60km south of Kanyakumari. 120km southwest from Thiruvananthapuram. Massive damage in coastal areas.