Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala State Disaster Management Authority, faced with criticism over disaster management, says the IMD forecast of a cyclone, issued on November 30 at 8:30 am was for Lakshadweep and not for Kerala. The KSDMA couldn’t have jumped the gun and declared an emergency on its own without supporting advisory. It is not possible to interpret regular releases issued by IMD and Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services on strong winds and waves as disaster situation. By strict criteria, a cyclone is classified as disaster.
More once a week, the agencies put out releases against fishermen venturing out to the seas because winds expected at speeds of 45 to 55 kmph. KSDMA issues a disaster release only after factoring in clearly disaster parameters. The Authority functions as per a strict SOP. The authority cannot unnecessarily create panic among the people through mere conjectures. In this context, without IMD’s official communication, the authority cannot declare a cyclone emergency. The following are steps initiated by KSDMA.
1. Nov 29 – 2:30 pm- INCOIS reports low pressure in the Bay of Bengal off the Si Lankan Coast and 45-55 kmph wind is likely on Kerala coast, with an advisory for fishermen not to go to the sea. This was communicated to all concerned at 4:30 pm. Info on heavy rains till Dec 1 and rough seas Dec 2 also communicated.
2. Nov 30- 1:30 am- IMD alert on the depression and the possibility wind speeds going up to 65 kmph. The map attached said the trajectory and direction of the depression were away from Kerala coast. This was centred 270 km southeast from Kerala and quite remote, not warranting a cyclone emergency.
3. Nov 30- 8:30 am- Deep depression over Comorin area and cyclone alert for Lakshadweep islands by IMD. Deep depression lay centred 170 km southeast of Kerala. There was no cyclone warning for Kerala and hence no state of emergency.
4. Nov 30- 12 noon- IMD Cyclone Ockhi storm over Comorin and cyclone warning for south Kerala, adjoining districts of south TN and Lakshadweep islands-Orange message. The advisory cyclone was 60 km south of Cape and 120 km southwest of Thiruvananthapuram. Duly communicated to all concerned. Prompt instructions issues to public, tourists and district disaster management authority and fishermen.
Notice on disaster mitigation steps in case it develops into severe cyclone was sent out through the Revenue Minister to all concerned.
5. Nov 30- 1 pm- SOP steps to alert and seek help of Army, Navy, IAF, Coastguard and Fire and Rescue done
6. Nov 30-3:30 pm- Disaster Authority meets with the CM in the chair and reviews the situation and decides to evacuate those in kutcha houses within 100 m of the coast in Tvm
7. Nov 30-4 pm- District disaster management authority and decides to enforce SOP for 100 m.