All three major ports in and around Chennai hoisted level 6 warning signals and shut their gates for operations as Chennai braces for Cyclone Nivar which is expected to make landfall on Wednesday.
Of the 11 cyclone warnings, Level 6 signifies that a deep depression has transformed into a cyclonic storm and is likely to cross the coast keeping port at the right.
Chennai, Kamarajar and Kattupalli Ports have asked cargo vessels docked in the port to vacate the premises. Chennai Port chairman P Raveendran told that, four cargo vessels are now being shifted to the high seas one by one in order to ensure safety of the vessels and port facilities.
Smaller vessels belonging to the Coast Guard, Indian Navy and National Institute of Ocean Technology are being accommodated in the Jawahar Dock or Boat Basin area of the port, he said.
Based on the severity of the cyclone, steps are being taken to secure all the shore cranes, gantry cranes and other equipment used for operations inside the port. Instructions have been passed on to all the Container Freight Stations and Inland Container Depots not to send any container laden vehicles to the port after 6pm. Once all the vehicles which are left on the road and moving to the port are received inside, the gates of the port will be closed.
Kamarajar Port chairman Sunil Paliwal told that, the port will be sending all the vessels out by evening. Paliwal said that there are three cargo vessels at the port at present and two of them will sail out while one will be moved to outer anchorage if it fails to offload the cargo. Similarly, four vessels are anchored outside the port. The harbour craft are filled with fuel and the cranes in the port are at resting position. Kamarajar Port will not allow any vessels till the landing of the cyclone, he said.
Meanwhile, Chennai Airport has declared a high alert as it braces for the cyclone. A high level virtual meeting was held on Tuesday where the Chennai Airport director highlighted the steps taken in preparation for Cyclone Nivar. An airport spokesman said that a special control room has been set up.
Three flights have been cancelled due to the adverse weather conditions. All the three were operated by IndiGo. Two of them were to land from Kochi (9.15 pm) and Trichy (11.25 pm). Similarly, a flight from Chennai to Trichy at 8.35 pm was also cancelled, a Chennai airport spokesman said.