Natural Disasters

Cyclone Gaja live analysis: 10% of world's cyclonic storms put 1/3rd of Indians at risk

Around 76% of the total loss of human lives from cyclonic storms have occurred in India and Bangladesh

 
By Akshit Sangomla
Last Updated: Thursday 15 November 2018
Cyclone Gaja
The eastern coast of India is more prone to cyclones than the western coast. Credit: Getty Images The eastern coast of India is more prone to cyclones than the western coast. Credit: Getty Images

Cyclone Gaja is the third cyclone to make landfall on the Indian mainland this year. The Tamil Nadu State Disaster Management Authority (TNSDMA) is taking all measures to minimise the damage the cyclone can cause.

“Around 40 bulletins have been disseminated to the people through district collectors in the coastal area. All of the state’s emergency centres have been activated,” Rajendra Ratnoo, commissioner of TNSDMA told Down to Earth.

“There are eight teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) on the ground. Teams from the Tamil Nadu Disaster Response Force have also been mobilised for action, especially in Nagapattinam and Cuddalore districts. People have been asked not to move out from their homes in the next few hours and those in highly vulnerable zones are being evacuated and taken to safe shelters,” Ratnoo added.

If proper measures are not taken such cyclonic storms cause considerable damage both to human lives and infrastructure. Cyclone Titli, which devastated the Odisha coast in October, claimed 62 lives in Odisha alone while the economic losses mounted to Rs 2,700 crore. The damages due to Titli were also very difficult to predict as it changed its track after making landfall.

India is exposed to 10 per cent of the world's tropical cyclones according to the National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project. Tropical cyclones are a general breed of storms which also include hurricanes and typhoons. This is the highest number for any country in the world. In fact, approximately 76% of the total loss of human lives from cyclonic storms have occurred in India and Bangladesh, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Also, according to the project, one third of India’s population is at risk of cyclones.

The eastern coast of India is more prone to cyclones than the western coast. From 1891-2000, while 308 cyclones hit the eastern coast only 48 affected the western coast. But now this scenario might change owing to climate change. The North Indian Ocean over the Arabian Sea will witness an increase in the frequency of extremely severe cyclonic storms owing to anthropogenic warming, says the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius, released this October.

The IPCC also predicts that the intensity of cyclones in all the regions of the world is going to increase in a warming world by a factor of 10-20 per cent in the next few years. This would mean that the storms will bring in more rainfall and carry more devastating wind speeds.

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