Daily Answer Writing
21 May 2021

Q) The frequency of cyclones appears to have increased in the Indian subcontinent. Discuss the Indian response in terms of preparedness for mitigating their impact. (250 Words)

Source: <https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/editorials/riding-the-storm-maharashtra-gujarat-goa-karnataka-kerala-cyclone-tauktae-arabian-sea-7323601/>

GS 3: Disaster Management

Approach Answer:

 

Introduction: Recently Cyclone Tauktae an extremely severe cyclonic storm took more than 75 people lives in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa, Karnataka and Kerala after  it swept in from the Arabian Sea. These areas were also affected by Cyclone Nisarga 2020, and Cyclone Vayu in 2019. Similarly in the recent past the frequency of Cyclones have increased in Bay of Bengal too for example  Cyclone Amphan had hit in 2020 in West Bengal and Odisha.

                            

Features of increased Cyclonic events:

              • Pre-Monsoon events: Tauktae is the fourth consecutive pre-monsoon extreme weather event in the Arabian Sea, indicating new disaster management and planning challenges for the country’s western shores.

              • Changes in Climate: In 2014, a paper in the American Meteorological Society’s Journal of Climate warned “the western tropical Indian Ocean has been warming for more than a century, at a rate faster than any other region of the tropical oceans.”

              • Increased Frequency: Phalin(2013), Hudhu(2014), Vardha(2016), Mora(2017), Okhi(2018), Amphan(2020), Vayu(2019), Nisarga(2020), and Tautke(2021) are the extremely severe cyclonic storms in the recent times.

              • Re-curving of Cyclones: Tropical cyclones would become more intense. They after passing over the peninsular region often re-intensify in the Arabian sea and re-curve back to the west coast.

              • Devastating cyclones in Arabian Sea: Traditionally, the Bay of Bengal has been more prone to cyclonic activity compared to the Arabian Sea due to warmer oceans. In the Arabian Sea most of which would dissipate over the sea.

             

Since the super cyclones in Gujarat in 1998 and Odisha in 1999 resulted in significant reduction in the loss of lives, India has improved its systems.

 

Steps taken by the Government:

              • Mapping of Spatio-temporal Distribution of Tropical Cyclone: have been prepared by National Disaster management authority(NDMA).

              • Disaster management Act: To bring clarity in roles of various organization in disaster response.

              • Tracking of Cyclonic disturbance: With advanced weather satellite SCATSAT and GSAT-INSAT systems, Indian Meteorological Department(IMD) is able to predict cyclones more efficiently.

              • Information dissemination: 'Mausam IMD' is the most reliable websites as it is the official government website. Here, you can assure that you are receiving the right information on the cyclone. This website has been developed by the Ministry of Earth Sciences and it offers all kinds of cyclone tracking including Tauktae.

              • IMD’s Colour Coding of Cyclones: It is a weather warning that is issued by the IMD to aware people ahead of natural hazards. The four colours used by IMD are Green, Yellow, Orange, and Red.

              • National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project: to undertake structural and non-structural measures to mitigate the cyclone’s effects. The aim of the project is to protect the vulnerable local communities from the impact of cyclones and other hydro-meteorological calamities. It is being implemented by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), with the financial assistance of World Bank.

              • Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) Project: It aims to bring a comprehensive plan to manage coastal areas. In August 2019, a draft of Environmental and Social Management Framework (ESMF) for integrated coastal management was released by the Environment Ministry(MoEFCC).

              • Coastal Regulation Zones (CRZ) – The CRZ Notification 2018 and 2019 bring new reforms w.r.t sustainable development of coastal areas. Read in detail about the Coastal Regulation Zones in the linked article.

 

Further possible improvements in Mitigation Measures:

              • Cyclone Sheltering – These are structures in-land in safer locations which can accommodate the vulnerable population evacuated at the time of cyclone. These can also be artificial hills.

              • Flood Management – The drainage systems should be well-designed; government and local community is required for this.

              • Vegetation Cover Improvement – To increase the water infiltration capacity, shelterbelt plantations to break wind speeds, mangrove shelterbelt plantations to resist storm surge etc.

              • Saline Embankment and Levees – Along the coast to  protect habitation, agricultural crops, and other important installations.

              • Land use planning – settlements can be avoided in the most vulnerable areas such as floodplains.

              • Engineered Structures – To withstand the wind forces and storm surge.

              • Retrofitting Non-Engineered Structures – to ensure resilience. Ex: Construction of a steep-slope roof to avoid the risk of being blown away, Anchoring strong posts with solid footings on the ground, Plantations of trees at a safe distance from the house to help break the wind forces, Repair of the shelters before time.

              • Awareness of the public – The participation of the community increases with the number of public awareness initiatives. The governments at all levels should initiate programs bringing awareness about the natural calamities and making provisions for higher local participation in the mitigation process.

 

Conclusion: With the help of advanced systems in place, more than 2 lakh people were evacuated in the coastal states to temporary relief shelters this year during cyclone Tauktae.  Nevertheless, the states along the western coast have much to learn from the experiences of their counterparts on the east — both in terms of successes and failures. As a first step, they need to invest in more cyclone shelters. Over the long-term, conversations must be initiated on ways to factor in climate related vagaries while planning construction and developmental activities close to the coast.

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