Gaja is the 10th cyclonic storm the state will experience since 2003
When cyclone Gaja makes landfall somewhere between Cuddalore and Pamban tonight, it will be the 10th cyclone to affect Tamil Nadu in the past 16 years. The total number of cyclones that have affected the state between 1891 and 2002 are 54, which is the fourth highest in the country after Odisha (98), Andhra Pradesh (79) and West Bengal (69). This means that while the rate of occurrence of cyclones in the state between 1891 and 2002 was 0.49 per year, in between 2003 to 2018 the rate increased to 0.63 per year. The rate of occurrence has increased by almost 30 per cent.
Tamil Nadu being a coastal state is one of the most cyclone prone regions in the country. Just last year, cyclone Ockhi had killed 14 people in the state and a year before that cyclone Vardah had killed 24 people.
The state’s action plan for climate change (SAPCC) identifies cyclones as a major concern. It says that Tamil Nadu has experienced devastating effects of storm surges due to cyclones 30 times between 1900 and 2004. The affected districts were Chennai, Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, Thanjavur, Ramanthapuram and Kanyakumari. For cyclone Gaja, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued a storm surge warning of as high as one metre which “could inundate low lying areas of Nagapattinam, Thanjavur, Pudukkottai and Ramanathapuram districts of Tamil Nadu and Karaikal district of Puducherry at the time of landfall”.
The government has taken multiple steps under the state action plan for climate change to mitigate the risk from cyclones. “It has established emergency control centres, one at state level and six in coastal districts to disseminate timely disaster information. The state government has planned to upgrade these already established emergency control centres and establish seven more such centres in the remaining seven costal districts,” states the SAPCC report.
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