Even though Cyclone Ockhi weakened on Tuesday and was unlikely to even cross Surat, the Gujarat government went on to evacuate over 3,200 people from 29 coastal villages as a precautionary measure.
According to a forecast by the Meteorological Centre in Ahmedabad, the cyclonic storm had turned into a "deep depression" and may hit south Gujarat only as a "depression". The officials had also said that Cyclone Ockhi is most likely to dissipate in the sea itself.
Despite the forecast, Surat geared up for all emergency situations.
"A deep depression is building, but the good news is that the intensity of the cyclone is reducing as it heads towards Surat. We are expecting moderate to heavy rainfall in various parts of Gujarat. The government has formed a crisis management group to deal with such situation. The Air force, Army, Navy, Coast Guard and BSF — all have been put on alert," Pankaj Kumar, Principal Secretary of Gujarat Revenue Department, was quoted as saying by the Indian Express.
Kumar also added that keeping in mind the havoc Cyclone Ockhi had caused in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Lakshadweep, the government has deployed two National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams in Surat and one each in Navsari, Valsad, Bhavnagar and Amreli.
Surat took these precautionary measures even before the India Meteorological Department weather forecast said that the storm lay centred in east central Arabian Sea, 240 km from Surat and was causing high-speed winds and rain across Gujarat and adjoining Maharashtra.
After the Met department's warning that Gujarat will experience wind with speed up to 70 kmph, the administration further boosted its work to keep people safe. It requested people to stay indoors and schools were asked to shut down on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani cast aside the campaign for the Gujarat Assembly elections and flew down to Surat to check the safety measures put into effect by the local administration.
"We are working hard to minimise the loss caused by the cyclone. It is a fight between natural calamity and human labour, and we have to remain alert. We have given final touches to our preparations. All the government officials will remain on their toes for the entire night. Control rooms have been opened at taluka and district levels in the coastal areas," Rupani said.
Cyclone Ockhi has already left over 20 people dead in India and Sri Lanka. At least 2,604 fishermen, including 220 from Kanyakumari district, who were stranded at sea due to the cyclonic storm have been rescued so far.