MADURAI: With Cyclone Fani intensifying in the Bay of Bengal, the Coastal Security Group (CSG) and fisheries department have stepped up security and rescue measures as part of their preparedness in view of the cyclone that could have impact till the southern coast of Tamil Nadu.
A senior CSG officer in Ramanathapuram told TOI that they started preparations when the first alert of a possible cyclone was raised five days ago. âWe have deployed close to 250 CSG personnel and officers on high alert in Ramanathapuram, Pudukottai and Tanjore districts with the required equipment and gear,â he said.
CSG personnel have been engaged in warning fishermen against venturing into the sea and to communicate with those at sea to return to safety without delay. âThrough mikes we popularised the CSG’s centralised helpline number 1093 to alert us on any distress,â he added.
Expert swimmers and search and rescue personnel of the CSG have been stationed at the police stations close to the sea. âWe are working in coordination with the respective district administrations, police, revenue and fisheries departments and local intelligence agencies to stay abreast on the developments,â the officer said.
He added that the readiness will be in place till the cyclone is defused or till the aftermath is under control.
Meanwhile, the fisheries department has also carried out measures such as announcing to the fisherfolk through the mosques in Ramanathapuram district, affixing posters on the notice boards of the villages and making announcements on speakers mounted on vehicles asking fishermen not to venture into the sea until further orders.
This was based on an alert from the fisheries department on Thursday evening. âThough, the cyclone is moving northward and may not hit the State (including the North Tamil Nadu) and could cross further north of India, the sea is rough and the alert is likely to remain till May 3,â he said.
Mechanised boats have not been in the sea from the 14th of this month since there is a 61-day ban on deep sea and multi-day fishing. The alert is primarily for the thousands of country crafts and fibre boats in the East Coast as they engage in daily fishing. âMonitoring has been stepped up in these pockets,â said a fisheries official.
Though most fishermen have not ventured into the sea, the fisheries department is monitoring the number of boats that go fishing on a daily basis using âThoondilâ software that gives them a fair idea on the number of boats that have illegally gone fishing despite the warning. Saying they are very few in numbers, steps have been taken to bring it down to zero.
On the instruction of the district collectors, the coastal districts have also kept over a hundred mechanised fibre boats and hundreds of volunteers among fishermen (good at swimming and rescuing) to be deployed for rescue in the case of distress. This includes 22 fishermen who have undergone training in rescue and first aid through the department.