The severe cyclones, Tauktae and Yaas, which battered India earlier this year, made landfall on the country’s western coast, Gujarat, and the eastern coast, Odisha, respectively. Both storms caused massive damage to infrastructure, the agricultural sector, and houses. Around 2.5 million people were evacuated to cyclone shelters and relief camps in these two States. The large-scale uprooting of treesin the urban areas affected already depleting green cover. Thus, during the Covid-19 pandemic, these cyclones caused additional financial responsibility for State governments. The health costs are also an issue.
Cyclone Challenges in India
- Every year, around five to six tropical cyclones are formed in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea; of these, two to three turn severe.
- The Indian coastline is around 7,500 km;there are 96 coastal districts (which touch the coast or are close to it), with 262 million people exposed to cyclones and tsunamis.
- Increasing sea surface temperatures in the northern Indian Ocean and the geo-climatic conditions in India have led to a rise in the frequency of devastating cyclones in the coastal States accounting for 7% of the global tropical cyclones, according to India Meteorological Department (IMD), 2013 data.
- Between 1891 and 2020, out of the 313 cyclones crossing India’s eastern and western coasts, 130 were classified as severe cyclonic storms.
Plan to build cyclone resilience
- Take Precautionary Measures: It is imperative to improve the cyclone warning system and revamp disaster preparedness measures.
- Structural Measures: The Government must widen the cover under shelterbelt plantations and help regenerate mangroves in coastal regions to lessen the impact of cyclones.
- Installing disaster-resilient power infrastructure in the coastal districts, providing concrete houses to poor and vulnerable households, and creating massive community awareness campaigns are essential.
- Collective Efforts: Healthy coordination between the Centre and the States concerned is essential to collectively design disaster mitigation measures. It is only such a collective mitigation effort by the Centre and States that can help reduce the fiscal burden of States and also be effective inminimising disaster deaths.