Global warming has been triggering inclement weather and cyclones that have hit the Indian coastline with devastating effect, leading to the loss of human lives and livelihoods.
Such natural calamities result in extensive damage to high-investment port and power infrastructure that takes years to build.
Destruction of fishing boats and damage to crops over vast swathes also takes place, leading to a huge setback for the economy and untold misery to the people who suffered those losses.
The widespread damage to infrastructure also leads to a decline in exports that adversely impacts GDP growth.
According to a UN report, India suffered losses worth $14 billion due to Cyclone Amphan which struck the India-Bangladesh border in May 2020.
However, it is noteworthy that India has now developed the ability to limit the damage caused by these disasters and ensure a greater degree of resilience in the coastal economies to bounce back.
Senior officials point out that the installation of a system of early weather warnings, accurate identification of vulnerable areas and timely evacuations are now helping India to avert major casualties due to nature’s fury.
They cite the example of Cyclone Biparjoy, which battered India’s Gujarat coast in June last year at speeds of 125 km per hour, but in which no lives were lost. The only deaths recorded were those of two shepherds who died while trying to prevent their cattle from being swept away in fast-flowing waters, hours before the cyclone made landfall.
Human lives were saved as over 100,000 people were evacuated to safer areas before the cyclone struck.
Similarly, in Cyclone Michaung that hit the country’s east coast in December, only 17 deaths were reported as thousands of people had already been evacuated from the Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh coastal areas that were in the path of the approaching cyclone.
On the other hand, in 1998, a major storm in Gujarat had resulted in the death of 4,000 people. After lessons were learned from the tragedy, the death toll in Cyclone Tauktae which struck in 2021 came down to around 100.
The weather department which earlier played a peripheral role and was not taken seriously has now been brought centre stage with the Union Home Ministry holding regular discussions with IMD officials and asking states to follow their warnings.
With better technology resulting in more accurate weather forecasts and an improved system of communications, the Centre has been able to swing into action to help the state governments with an early warning system that evacuates people from the destructive path of nature’s fury.
Ports are shut down well in advance to protect infrastructure while ships and fishing boats are able to take timely action to limit damage.
Similarly, offshore oil production facilities of ONGC also close operations before a storm or cyclone strikes the area.
The shutting down of schools and colleges and beaches well ahead of approaching cyclones has also helped in curtailing casualties.
Deployment of the Indian Coast Guard which warns fishing vessels well in advance against venturing out during stormy conditions has emerged as an important factor in reducing damage to boats and loss of human lives.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the country’s Army, Navy and Air Force have been rising to the occasion in backing the state governments to help in the evacuation of people as well as in the rescue and relief operations.
This has enabled the country to become more capable of tackling these disasters and brought about a higher degree of resilience in the socio-economic system.
(Except for the headline, this story, from a syndicated feed, has not been edited by Odishatv.in staff)