Cyclone Fani has left a trail of destruction across a large part of coastal Odisha ,but its management has emerged as a global example of how timely weather alerts, preparedness and informed public participation can dramatically reduce loss of life.
The toll from the extremely severe cyclonic storm on May 3 , 2019 stood, at last count, at 34 deaths. In terms of material losses, several districts were battered, houses flattened and electricity and telecommunications infrastructure destroyed, but the relatively low mortality shows a dramatic transformation from the loss of over 10,000 lives in 1999 when super cyclone 05B struck. Odisha then worked to upgrade its preparedness, which was tested when very severe cyclonic storm Phailin struck in 2013. It was able to bring down the number of deaths to 44 then, in spite of a wide arc of destruction: 13 million people were hit and half a million houses destroyed. The Odisha government and the Centre now have the task of rebuilding infrastructure. They should use the opportunity to upgrade technology, achieve cost efficiencies and build resilience to extreme weather, all of which can minimise future losses. Given the vulnerability of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh to cyclones, the frequency and intensity of which may be influenced by a changing climate, the center should press for global environmental funding under the UN framework to help in the rebuilding. Both States have received funding from the World Bank in cyclone risk mitigation efforts since 2011.
Cyclones in India
India is highly vulnerable to natural hazards especially earthquakes, floods, drought, cyclones and landslides. Studies indicate that natural disaster losses equate to up to 2% of India Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and up to 12% of Central government revenue. The cyclones that occur between Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn are known as Tropical Cyclones. Tropical cyclones are weather systems in which winds equal or exceed gale force (minimum of 34 knot, i.e., 62 kmph). Indian sub-continent is the worst affected region of the world, having a coastline of 7516 kms. (5400 kms along the mainland, 132 kms in Lakshadweep and 1900 kms in Andaman and Nicobar Islands) is exposed to nearly 10% of the world.Tropical Cyclones. There are 13 coastal states/UTs encompassing 84 coastal districts which are affected by cyclones Four States (Andhra Pradesh , Odisha, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal) and one UT ( Pondicherry ) on the East Coast and One State (Gujarat) on the West Coast are more vulnerable to cyclone disasters. 40% of the total population lives within 100 km of coastline. Cyclones occur in the month of May-June and October-November, with primary peak in November and secondary peak in May. Although cyclones affect the entire coast of India the East Coast is more prone compared to the West Coast. Recurring cyclones account for large number of deaths, loss of livelihood opportunities, loss of public and private property and severe damage to infrastructure, thus seriously reversing the developmental gains at regular intervals. Climate change and its resultant sea-level rises can significantly increase the vulnerability of coastal population.
Classification of tropical Cyclone
The criteria followed by Meteorological Department of India (IMD) to classify the low pressure systems in the Bay of Bengal and in the Arabian Sea as adopted by World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) are as under:
|Type of Disturbances||Associated Wind Speed in the Circulation|
|Low pressure Area||Less than17 knots (<31 kmph)|
|Depression||17 to 27 knots (31 to 49 kmph)|
|Deep Depression||28 to 33 knots (50 to 61 kmph)|
|Cyclonic Storm||34 to 47 knots (62 to 88 kmph)|
|Severe Cyclonic Storm||48 to 63 knots (89 to 118 kmph)|
|Very Severe Cyclonic Storm||64 to 119 knots (119 to 221 kmph)|
|Super Cyclonic Storm||119 knots and above (221 kmph and above)|
National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project