NEW DELHI: A high-velocity dust storm hit the national capital and the NCR region late on Monday, the weatherman said.The storm, with a wind speed of 70 kilometres per hours, hit Delhi around 11.20pm, an official at the Safdarjung observatory said.
At least 124 people killed and 300 injured due to dust storms and thunderstorms in 5 states, mostly in UP and Rajasthan. Haryana schools remain closed for 2 days.Earlier in the day, the Delhi government decided to close all evening schools on Tuesday and put search and rescue teams on standby in the wake of the meteorological (MeT) department issuing a warning of heavy rain and thunderstorm.
The traffic police has alerted their field formations to be ready to remove obstacles such as fallen trees and asked commuters to check weather conditions before travelling.
The Delhi Metro, too, has decided to exercise extreme caution in running of trains in the wake of the warning.
The government said that all evening schools (second shift which starts from the afternoon) will be shut on Tuesday after chief secretary Anshu Prakash chaired a high-level meeting to review the preparedness in the wake of the warning.
“All evening schools will remain closed tomorrow following the weather warning,” a senior government official told PTI.
The government has also asked other schools to not hold outdoor activities and extracurricular activities between 3 pm to 7 pm during which winds speed is expected to remain high.
The government also issued a list of “dos and don’ts” to deal with any such possible situation. The Department of Education later also issued a circular on the issue.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) had issued an alert earlier in the day forecasting that several parts of north India including Delhi could witness thunderstorm and squall with winds gusting up to 50-70 kilometers per hour.
Officials of the fire , revenue, traffic police, home, public works departments and others were present in the meeting chaired by the chief secretary.
In the list of “dos and don’ts” , the government has advised citizens to try to stay indoors and staff off verandas and keep a watch on local weather updates and warnings.
The government also asked people to ensure that children and animals are inside and unplug unnecessary electrical appliances.
The advisory also asked citizens to avoid taking a bath or shower or running water for any purpose.
“This is because lightning can travel along pipes. Keep away from doors, windows, fire places, stoves, bath-tubs, or any other electrical charge conductors,” the advisory stated.
The IMD issued an amber-coloured alert, indicating severe weather, for parts of Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi, Chandigarh, western Uttar Pradesh, Sikkim and West Bengal.
Earlier in the day, the revenue department of the Delhi government has issued directions to all district officers and said water and power utilities would also keep restoration teams ready .
“The district and sub-district search and rescue teams have been put on standby,” a senior official of the department said.
The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), which operates trains in the national capital and NCR, said it would exercise extreme caution in running of trains.
“If wind speed is reported in the range of 70-90 kmph then train movement will remain normal but trains will enter with a restricted speed of 40 kmph or less at the platforms on elevated section.
“If wind speed is reported more than 90 kmph then trains will be put on hold at platforms and no train will enter platform with a speed of more than 15 kmph,” a senior DMRC official told PTI.
In this case, normal movement of trains will be restored once the wind speed is reported less then 85kmph for continuous five minutes. Appropriate announcements will be made at stations during this period, he said.
At the same time, the Delhi Traffic Police has advised commuters to plan their journey after checking the weather conditions.
The Delhi Traffic Police’s advisory states that it has alerted the field formations to be ready to get obstacles such as fallen trees removed.
The advisory has asked commuters to avoid travelling during the storm