From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Tauktae and Yaas
Mains level : Paper 3- Need for long term mitigation measures to deal with the cyclones
The severe cyclones, Tauktae and Yaas, battered India earlier this year. With a rise in the frequency of devastating cyclones, India needs to look at long-term mitigation measures.
- 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.
- The World Bank and the United Nations (2010) estimate that around 200 million city residents would be exposed to storms and earthquakes by 2050 in India.
- Between 1891 and 2020, out of the 313 cyclones crossing India’s eastern and western coasts, the west coast experienced 31 cyclones, while 282 cyclones crossed the east coast.
- Among the natural disasters, cyclones constituted the second most frequent phenomena that occurred in 15% of India’s total natural disasters over 1999-2020.
- According to the Global Climate Risk Index report 2021, India ranks the seventh worst-hit country globally in 2019 due to the frequent occurrence of extreme weather-related events.
- Increase in frequency: According to India Meteorological Department (IMD), 2013 data frequency of cyclones in the coastal States accounting increased by 7%.
- Factor’s responsible: Increasing sea surface temperatures in the northern Indian Ocean and the geo-climatic conditions in India are the factors responsible for the increase in frequency.
- Between 1999 and 2020, cyclones inflicted substantial damage to public and private properties, amounting to an increase in losses from $2,990 million to $14,920 million in the absence of long-term mitigation measures.
- India lost around 2% of GDP and 15% of total revenue over 1999-2020.
- Between 1999-2020, around 12,388 people were killed, and the damage was estimated at $32,615 million.
- Cyclones are the second most expensive in terms of the costs incurred in damage, accounting for 29% of the total disaster-related damages after floods (62%).
- In addition, they are the third most lethal disaster in India after earthquakes (42%) and floods (33%).
- In the aftermath of the 1999 super cyclone, the Government of Odisha took up various cyclone mitigation measures.
- These included installing a disaster warning system in the coastal districts, and construction of evacuation shelters in cyclone-prone districts.
- Other steps were the setting up of the Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA), conducting regular cabinet meetings for disaster preparedness, and building the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF).
- Still, Odisha’s disaster management model is inadequate to minimise the economic losses that result from cyclones.
- Therefore, the Government of India should adopt a few measures to minimise disaster damage and fatalities.
- Improve warning system: It is imperative to improve the cyclone warning system and revamp disaster preparedness measures.
- Increase cover under shelterbelt plantation: The Government must widen the cover under shelterbelt plantations and help regenerate mangroves in coastal regions to lessen the impact of cyclones.
- In addition, adopting cost-effective, long-term mitigation measures, including building cyclone-resilient infrastructure such as constructing storm surge-resilient embankments, canals and improving river connectivity to prevent waterlogging in low-lying areas are important.
- Disaster resilient power infrastructure: 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.
- Coordination between Centre-State: Healthy coordination between the Centre and the States concerned is essential to collectively design disaster mitigation measures.
- Collective mitigation effort by the Centre and States that can help reduce the fiscal burden of States and also be effective in minimising disaster deaths.
Long term mitigation measures are essential to minimise the impact of the disasters such as cyclones.