Cyclone Disaster Management in India

Cyclone Disaster Management encompasses mitigation and preparedness measures for cyclones. India has a long history with cyclones. The location of India in the north Indian Ocean makes it vulnerable to the tropical cyclone. In 2019-20, India witnessed multiple cyclones including Amphan, Nisarga, Nivar, etc. Hence, it is important for the IAS Exam aspirants to look into the issue from a holistic perspective.

This article will brief you with cyclone mitigation and preparedness measures and also India’s initiatives for Cyclone Disaster Management. It is helpful for UPSC candidates for the preparation of ‘Disaster Management-related topics’ for Mains General Studies Paper 3, and essay.

Read about Disaster Management in India in the linked article.

A Brief About Cyclones

The storms caused by wind blowing around the low-pressure areas are called cyclones. Similarly, storms around the high-pressure areas are called anticyclones. There are types of cyclones:

1. Tropical Cyclone

  • The storms that originate over a warm tropical ocean are termed as tropical cyclones.
  • Low atmospheric pressure, high winds and heavy rainfall are characteristics of these types of cyclones.
  • Parts of the Atlantic region, pacific ocean, Indian ocean witness tropical cyclones affecting Gulf Coast of North America, northwestern Australia, and eastern India and Bangladesh along with other areas.

To know how tropical cyclones are formed, what are their characteristics; read the linked article.

2. Temperate Cyclone

  • These are storms that occur outside the tropics.
  • These are referred to as extratropical cyclones. Other names are frontal cyclones and wave cyclones.
  • They occur in polar regions, temperate and high latitudes.

To know the difference between tropical and extratropical cyclones, check the linked article.

Cyclones in India

India witnesses cyclones in the North Indian Ocean Cyclone Season usually between April and November. The Indian coastline length is around 7516 km and it is noted that 5770 km of coastline is vulnerable to natural hazards including cyclones. The east coast of India is more prone to cyclones than the western coast.

In Indian History, there have been various cyclones that made headlines due to their effect on the country.

The list of some important cyclones of India is given below:

1. Bhola Cyclone – 1970

  • It struck Bangladesh (Then, East Pakistan) and West Bengal in 1970.
  • It was the strongest cyclone of the 1970 North Indian Ocean Cyclone Season.
  • It is considered as the deadliest cyclone causing around 3-5 lakh deaths.

2. Odisha Cyclone – 1999

  • It was a very severe cyclonic storm that struck Thailand, Bangladesh, Myanmar and India.
  • As the name suggests, Odisha was the most affected Indian state.
  • According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD)’s data, around 9887 people lost their lives in this cyclone.

3. Cyclone Fani – 2019

  • After the Odisha Cyclone 1999, it was the second strongest cyclone to strike Odisha.

A detailed description of the Cyclone Fani was taken up in the In-Depth discussion of Rajya Sabha TV, which is given in a brief in the linked article.

4. Cyclone Amphan – 2020

  • It was a super tropical cyclone that affected Indian states of West Bengal and Odisha; and Bangladesh.
  • It originated in the Bay of Bengal in May 2020.
  • It is noted to be the costliest tropical cyclone on record in the North Indian Ocean costing Rs. 1.03 crores economic loss.

Read in detail about the characteristics of Cyclone Amphan in the linked article.

5. Cyclone Nisarga – 2020

  • It was a severe cyclonic storm that formed over the Arabian Sea.
  • Maharashtra and Gujarat were the Indian states that were affected by this cyclonic storm.

Read about the formation and characteristics of Cyclone Nisarga at the linked article.

6. Cyclone Nivar – 2020

  • It was a severe cyclonic storm that affected Tamil Nadu and Puducherry in November 2020.
  • There was no loss of life but damaged horticultural crops in about 23000 acres.

The important facts about Cyclone Nivar are mentioned in detail in the linked article.

7. Cyclone Burevi – 2020

  • It is a cyclonic storm that affected Tamil Nadu and Kerala in India.
  • It followed the Nivar Cyclone and originated in the southwest region of Bay of Bengal, in December 2020.

Read about the formation of Bomb Cyclones in the linked article.

Cyclone Disaster Management

The above-mentioned data signifies the importance of cyclone disaster management in India to mitigate personal and economic losses.

Mitigation Measures

The mitigation measures as proposed by the UN-HABITAT are given below:

  1. Hazard Mapping – It suggests that using hazard mapping, one can predict the vulnerable areas affected by the storms. It maps the pattern of old cyclones using their wind speed, areas affected, flooding frequency etc.
  2. Land use planning – With the effective implementation of land use planning, the key activities and settlements can be avoided in the most vulnerable areas. For example, a settlement in the floodplains is at utmost risk. Hence, authorities should plan ahead to avoid such risks.
  3. Engineered Structures – These structures withstand the wind forces and prove to mitigate the losses. The public infrastructure of the country should be designed keeping in mind the hazard mapping of the cyclone.
  4. Retrofitting Non-Engineered Structures – The settlements in non-engineered structures should ensure that they are aware of their houses’ resistance to the wind or certain disastrous weather conditions. A few examples of retrofitting the non-engineered structures given by UN-HABITAT are:
    • 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.
  5. Cyclone Sheltering – At national, state and regional level, the construction of cyclone shelters should be taken up to help the vulnerable community from cyclones. The shelters should be built considering the population density, transportation and communication, distance from the affected areas of the past, and the areas’ topography.
  6. Flood Management – As the cyclonic storms lead to heavy rainfall that further lead to flooding in various areas; important should be given to the flood management. The drainage systems should be well-designed to mitigate flooding. The participation both from the government and the local community is required for this. (Read about Floods in the linked article.)
  7. Vegetation Cover Improvement – To increase the water infiltration capacity, improving vegetation cover is of high importance. Planting trees in rows, coastal shelterbelt plantations, mangrove shelterbelt plantations, etc can help break the wind force and mitigate the severe losses.
  8. Mangrove Plantation – The ecologically-efficient mangroves should be planted more. India has 3 per cent of the world’s mangroves cover. The root systems of mangroves help in mitigating tsunamis, soil erosion etc. (Read about important facts, the significance of Mangroves in the linked article.)
  9. Saline Embankment – Along the coast, saline embankments help protect habitation, agricultural crops, and other important installations.
  10. Levees – They act as an obstruction to the wind forces and also provide a shelter during floods. (Learn about important terms related to rivers in the linked article.)
  11. Artificial Hills – These act as the refuge during flooding, and should be taken up in the right areas.
  12. 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.

India’s Cyclone Disaster Management Initiatives

Let us read about a few governmental initiatives for cyclone management in India:

  1. National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project
    • India initiated this project to undertake structural and non-structural measures to mitigate the cyclone’s effects.
    • It is designed for coastal states and UTs of India.
    • The aim of the project is to protect the vulnerable local communities from the impact of cyclones and other hydro-meteorological calamities.
    • The phase 1 of the project spans from 2015-2020.
    • The World Bank is providing financial assistance for this project.
    • It is being implemented by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA.)
  2. Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) Project
    • In August 2019, a draft of Environmental and Social Management Framework (ESMF) for integrated coastal management was released by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC.)
    • It aims to bring a comprehensive plan to manage coastal areas.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Recently, in December 2020, IMD’s DG announced the introduction of a dynamic and impact-based cyclonic warning system. IMD will work with NDMA, INCOIS and various state governments to successfully introduce this system.

Frequently Asked Questions on Cyclone Disaster Management in India

Q 1. Who is responsible for Cyclone Disaster Management in India?

Ans. In India, Natural Disaster Management Authority has been established to deal with cyclones and other natural disasters. Apart from this, the Indian Meteorological Department(IMD) is the nodal agency responsible for notifying about the early cyclone warnings.

Q 2. What initiatives have been taken by the Government for cyclone management in India?

Ans. The Government has taken various initiatives for cyclone management in the country. These include:
  • National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project for structural and non-structural measures for cyclone mitigation
  • Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) Project to manage coastal areas
  • Coastal Regulation Zones (CRZ) for sustainable development of coastal areas

Candidates can prepare the disaster management-related topics from the links given below:

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