Cyclone Nisarga, a severe cyclonic storm, which made landfall south of Alibag in Raigad district, left behind a trail of destruction of damaged power supply lines, trees fallen over roads, tin roofs blown away from tenements all along the Konkan coastline of Maharashtra on Wednesday, even as the state evacuated close to 85,000 people from seven districts, including Palghar, Ratnagiri, and Thane among others.
Two people in Raigad district and two more in Pune district died, while eight people were injured in Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri, state officials confirmed.
Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and his deputy Ajit Pawar reviewed the situation in the morning, with district collectors and divisional commissioner. Thackeray directed the administration to launch rescue operations and survey damage to life and property. He later thanked the people of Maharashtra. "Even as Maharashtra is battling with the Covid-19 crisis, the cyclone stormed at its coastal part. The state stood unitedly and successfully to face this challenge. I am sure this unity will help us in tide over Covid-19 crisis too," he said.
As it passed over the coastline, Nisarga spanned 500 kms captured by radar and encompassed Mumbai and Thane districts, the IMD stated. Its eye was about 80 kms in diameter — by all measures, it was every bit the severe cyclonic storm that the states were bracing for. However, cyclones tend to lose speed the more they travel inland, and by Wednesday 8pm, Nisarga had made its way towards Pune and was headed in a northeastwards direction towards Madhya Pradesh at a speed of 60-70 kmph.
Though the cyclone completed landfall between 12.30 and 2.30 pm, its intensity lasted for another hour afterwards. Alibag received 84.3 mm of rain between 8.30 am and 5.30 pm on Wednesday, while Ratnagiri district, south of the cyclone's landfall site, recorded 45 mm in the same time period, according to district administration data.
"The entire district is cyclone-hit," Nidhi Choudhari, the district collector of Raigad, said, as she assessed the extent of damage with the NDRF team. "It struck us exactly at Diveagar, and later moved towards Alibag and Pen tehsils. The impact was felt as far as Margaon, Khopoli and Karjat (inland) where tree and electric lines were badly damaged." Choudhari estimated at least 10,000 trees had been affected.
Seven districts will continue to remain on alert till Thursday morning. According to the press statement issued by the state government, the cyclone is near Pune after moving on via Alibag-Mumbai-Thane and is weakening. "With further deep depression, moderate rainfall in Pune and Nashik districts is expected."
Revenue minister Balasaheb Thorat said the administration has swung into action to restore the infrastructure. "Besides the damages to the roads, electricity infrastructure too has sustained damage leading to the outage of the electricity in many parts. Since the cyclone is moving towards the North Maharashtra, we have issued advisories to the people in Pune, Nashik, Ahmednagar, Dhule," he said.