The Union Home Ministry has issued detailed advisories to Gujarat and the Union Territory of Diu, requesting them to take all precautionary measures to ensure that no human life is lost in view of the cyclone "Vayu" which is likely to hit Gujarat on Thursday.
The advisory also aimed at minimising damage to vital infrastructure and ensuring early recovery of all essential services after the cyclone makes landfall, a Home Ministry statement said.
It also advised timely evacuation of people from low-lying coastal and vulnerable areas. According to media reports, almost three lakh people have been evacuated so far from Gujarat and Diu regions. They have been relocated to around 700 rehabilitation centres in the area.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah is regularly reviewing the situation and Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba will conduct a review meeting on Wednesday with the Central ministries, agencies, Chief Secretaries and the advisor to Gujarat and Diu, the advisory said.
The advisory followed a high-level review meeting taken by Shah regarding the preparedness of state and Central Ministries and agencies to deal with the situation arising out of cyclone Vayu.
After reviewing the situation at a high level meeting, Shah directed senior officers to take every possible measure to ensure that people are safely evacuated before the cyclone makes landfall.
Cyclone Vayu to hit Gujarat on June 13
Cyclone Vayu had intensified into a severe cyclonic storm Tuesday and is likely to hit the Gujarat coast on June 13 morning, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
"It is very likely to move nearly northward and cross the Gujarat coast between Porbandar and Mahuva around Veraval and Diu region as a severe cyclonic storm with wind speed 110-120 kilometres per hour gusting to 135 kilometres per hour during early morning of June 13," it said.
In its forecast for June 13, the IMD said, "Gale wind speed of the order of 110-120 kmph gusting to 135 kmph very likely over north Arabian Sea and Gujarat coast in morning hours and decrease gradually thereafter. It is very likely to be 50-60 kmph gusting to 70 kmph over north Maharashtra coasts and northern parts of east central Arabian Sea."
The IMD has issued a warning of heavy rains and high winds at a speed of over 110 kilometres per hour on June 13 and 14 in the coastal areas of Saurashtra and Kutch.
The Gujarat government is on high alert. It deployed National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel in the coastal areas of Saurashtra and Kutch Tuesday morning.
It has advised fishermen against venturing into the sea in the next few days, while ports have been directed to flag a danger signal.
"Storm surge of height of about 1-1.5 metres above the astronomical tides likely to inundate the low-lying coastal areas of Kutch, Devbhoomi Dwarka, Porbandar, Junagarh, Diu, Gir Somnath, Amreli and Bhavnagar districts at the time of landfall," the weather office said in the bulletin.
IMD warned the cyclone could further delay the progress of the annual monsoon rains over the rest of India, as the storm was drawing rain clouds from over the sea.
The arrival of the monsoons on the southern coast of Kerala was already about a week late this year.
Govt to evacuate thousands from coastal areas
Authorities are preparing to evacuate 300,000 people along the western coast as as the storm is expected to make landfall on Thursday morning in the Gujarat.
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani told reporters he had asked for help from the military and the National Disaster Response Force for rescue and relief work in cases the storm causes large scale disruption.
Gujarat is also home to large refineries and sea ports that lie near the storm's path, officials said.
A spokesman for Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd said it was preparing to move employees at two ports it runs in the state to safer areas.
"Our Mundra and Tuna ports will be closest to the path. The disaster management plan has been put into action and all the necessary precautions are being put in place including evacuation of staff if the need arises," the spokesman said.
India's biggest oil refinery, owned by Reliance Industries, is also based in Gujarat.
A Reliance executive said the cyclone is expected to weaken by the time it reaches the Jamnagar-based refinery.
"But in case the course changes or intensifies, the refinery is ready for any contingency," the executive said, declining to be named because he was not authorised to speak to journalists.
Nayara Energy, which is controlled by Russia's Rosneft and also operates a refinery near Reliance's unit, said it was monitoring the situation and taking precautionary measures.
In May, Cyclone Fani killed at least 34 people on India's eastern coast, destroying houses and ripping off roofs.
Two decades ago, a super-cyclone battered the coast of Odisha for 30 hours, killing 10,000 people.
The government plans to start moving some 300,000 people from the most vulnerable areas from Wednesday morning into shelters. Home Minister Amit Shah asked officials to ensure any power, telecommunications and drinking water supplies affected by the cyclone are restored as soon as possible afterwards.
(With inputs from PTI and Reuters)