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Tauktae, Yaas and planning for the next

  • IASbaba
  • August 24, 2021
  • 0
UPSC Articles
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ENVIRONMENT/ DISASTER MANAGEMENT

  • GS-3: Environment Conservation
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • GS-3: Disaster Management

Tauktae, Yaas and planning for the next

Context: Severe cyclones, Tauktae (landfall in Gujarat) and Yaas (landfall in West Bengal) caused massive damage to infrastructure, the agricultural sector, and houses. 

Scale of impact (as per govt. report)

  • 199 people died, 37 million people were affected, 
  • Economic losses stood at ₹320 billion (U.S.$4.3 billion)
  • Crop area of 0.24 million hectares was affected, and around 0.45 million houses were damaged. 
  • 2.5 million people were evacuated to cyclone shelters and relief camps in these two States (Gujarat & West Bengal).
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, these cyclones caused additional financial responsibility for State governments

Issues

  • Increased Frequency: Increasing sea surface temperatures in the northern Indian Ocean have led to a rise in the frequency of devastating cyclones in the coastal States accounting for 7% of the global tropical cyclones. 
  • 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.
  • High Economic Losses: 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. 
  • Hurts Growth & Development: The Asian Development Bank’s report in 2014 estimated that India would suffer a loss of around 1.8% of GDP annually by 2050 from climate-related events.
  • Loss in govt. revenue: India lost around 2% of GDP and 15% of total revenue over 1999-2020. Cyclones has also increased the fiscal burden of governments through increased spending to implement effective cyclone preparation measures.
  • Human Cost: Cyclones are the third most lethal disaster in India after earthquakes (42%) and floods (33%). However, fatalities due to cyclones declined from 10,378 in 1999 to 110 in 2020.

Odisha Model of Cyclone Management

In the aftermath of the 1999 super cyclone, the Government of Odisha took up various cyclone mitigation measures which included

  • Installing a disaster warning system in the coastal districts,
  • Construction of evacuation shelters in cyclone-prone districts. 
  • Setting up of the Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA)
  • Conducting regular cabinet meetings for disaster preparedness
  • Building the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF).

Odisha’s disaster management model, though good, 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.

  • It is imperative to improve the cyclone warning system and revamp disaster preparedness measures. 
  • Government must widen the cover under shelterbelt plantations and help regenerate mangroves in coastal regions to lessen the impact of cyclones.
  • Building cyclone-resilient infrastructure such as constructing storm surge-resilient embankments, canals and improving river connectivity to prevent waterlogging in low-lying areas.
  • 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. 
  • Finally, healthy coordination between the Centre and the States concerned is essential to collectively design disaster mitigation measures.

Connecting the dots:

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