Weather officials warned that wind speed in Kolkata could hit a maximum of 130kmph when Amphan would make landfall, prompting Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee to appeal to citizens to stay indoors from 11am on Wednesday.
The Bengal administration shifted around 3 lakh people from coastal areas, around 67% of them from South 24 Parganas and the rest from North 24 Parganas and East and West Midnapore, as the Kolkata Municipal Corporation identified vacant civic schools and community centres to be used as emergency shelters.
“You have been facing Covid lockdown all these days but Amphan has added to our problems. I will request all of you to stay home from 11am on Wednesday till the cyclone leaves Bengal on Thursday. Wait for announcements from the administration. Some experts have said Amphan may be worse than Aila,” Banerjee said, referring to the 2009 cyclone that hit the city with a maximum speed of over 90kmph. Kolkata’s last brush with a cyclone was in November 2019, when Bulbul hit the state.
Officials warned of waves 4-5 metres high in coastal areas and heavy to very heavy rainfall from Wednesday afternoon, which would intensify as the cyclone approached land and continue through Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon. Communication poles and trees might suffer widespread damage and there could be heavy waterlogging in some areas of the city, they added.
Banerjee inspected the 24×7 disaster control room set up at Nabanna after speaking to Union home minister Amit Shah and asking senior state officials to urge the railways and the Union ministry of home affairs to suspend the Bengal-bound Shramik Special trains. The KMC, too, has set up a separate control room and several teams, including those from the Indian Navy, the Coast Guard, the State Disaster Response Force and the National Disaster Response Force, have been deployed in Kolkata and neighbouring districts.
KMC chairperson Firhad Hakim later appealed to people staying in structurally vulnerable buildings to shift elsewhere as Kolkata Police personnel moved around neighbourhoods, asking people to shut themselves in on Wednesday after stocking up by Tuesday evening.
Commissioner of police Anuj Sharma met senior officers and insisted that five things be prioritised: removal of cranes from under-construction high-rises and “dangerous” hoardings from buildings, monitoring of dilapidated buildings and removal of people staying there to safer places in a short time, evacuation of those living near the Hooghly to government accommodation and coordination with KMC and Disaster Management Group teams.