Natural Disasters

Cyclones and the threat to delta population

Extreme weather events cause huge loss of lives, livestock and household assets 

 
By A K Ghosh
Last Updated: Tuesday 31 May 2016

Cyclones cause salinisation of agricultural fields making them unsuitable for growing crops, besides increased debt burden, trafficking and forced migration
Credit: Taken from DTE website

India and Bangladesh are increasingly facing the wrath of nature with more frequent occurrences of cyclonic storms and coastal floods.

One can especially recall Sidr (2007), Nargis (2008), Aila (2009), Phailin (2013) and the recent Roanu (2016), hitting the deltas of Ganges-Meghna-Brahmaputra and Irrawaddy, affecting millions of people in the eastern Bay of Bengal.

During each of these events there has been huge loss of lives, livestock and household assets giving rise to long-term after-effects such as debt burden, forced migration and women trafficking.

Added to this long list of misery is the salinisation of agricultural fields, making them unsuitable for growing crops.

Are mitigation and adaptation measures adequate?

Project reports and action plans focusing on the need to combat the effects of climate change through the process of mitigation and adaptation are pouring in.

In India, a National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC, 2008 and 2014) with 12 mission mode action can be viewed followed by the impressive State Level Action Plan for every state.

But during every disaster, the panic button is pressed. The Disaster Management Act, 2005 and the National Disaster Management Authority failed to prevent loss of life in Andhra Pradesh during cyclone Roanu and many more such incidents had occurred in the past after 2005.

In Bangladesh, the number of deaths touched 24 during Roanu. Loss of human lives has now become a number game in the media.

In reality, the message of action has not been able to translate into real action. Policy makers and implementing agencies speak in different languages and so does the finance ministry which holds the purse strings.

How many states have come up with an annual progress report on the State Action Plan on Climate Change? Any critical search will yield only one such report from Odisha on the progress of implementation of the Odisha Climate Change (2010), reporting on the progress made till 2015.

Even there is no separate reporting system from the NAPCC authority and the Government of India on the progress except for the part included in the annual report of the environment ministry.

The Centre seems to be focusing more on long-term benefits that will be derived from adopting mitigation measures like extensive plan for renewable energy and promoting energy efficiency than addressing the immediate need of putting equal importance on measures targeted for implementing adaptation programmes.

It will be interesting to find out what exactly are the barriers to the implementation of the adaptation programme for which at least five dedicated missions have been announced at the national level.

India has set up a National Adaptation Fund, but the budget allocated seems to be too little. Meanwhile, the coastal population, especially in the most-vulnerable delta regions, continues to face uncertainty with every warning of cyclone and storm surge during the coming monsoon.

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  • Severe Cyclonic activity is possible in pre-monsoon and post-monsoon seasons. Here the adaptation measures to create a good network of disaster management system on permanent basis. This will reduce the risk of human loss but not animal and property/crop losses.

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

    Posted by: Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy | 3 years ago | Reply
  • We mostly discuss about full proof disaster management system to save life and property from the wrath of cyclone. It is well known that dense mangrove forest in coastal area dilutes the devastating effect of cyclone in the inland areas.But we deprive coastal areas from sediments and other nourishment for growth of forest by building series of dams along the rivers and expand existing city all along the coast.
    Again we will invest huge sum to save the lives and property in coastal area. A beautiful cycle of unscientific planning.

    Posted by: Swapan Kumar Mukhopadhyay | 3 years ago | Reply