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Standing strong to Fani, Odisha shows the way

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : May 4, 2019, 12:38 am IST
Updated : May 4, 2019, 6:59 am IST

Dealing with India's geography of coastlines on either side of a very long peninsula is not the simplest of tasks.

Motorcycles lie on a street in Puri after Cyclone Fani hit Odisha on Friday. (Photo: AP)
 Motorcycles lie on a street in Puri after Cyclone Fani hit Odisha on Friday. (Photo: AP)

To be forewarned is to be forearmed. It is a proud moment symbolising our greater preparedness to deal with an extreme climate event when the monstrous cyclone made landfall and we were able to minimise the loss of lives. Odisha has been setting an exemplary record in this having withstood two or three of its most recent tropical storms without losing too many people. This is something Andhra and Tamil Nadu can hope to get better at, but only if they undertake the shifting of more than a million people from exposed areas that Odisha managed so efficiently. The topography of a mostly rural Odisha coastline may have helped as urban clusters tend to suffer more from flooding. The ferocity of the wind and the intensity of the rain were pointers to how climatic events are gathering far greater power than before. The stopping of flights and trains and various other precautions taken were faultless.

Dealing with India's geography of coastlines on either side of a very long peninsula is not the simplest of tasks. The eastern coastline is even more prone to tropical storms brewing over the seas and blowing wind and spewing rain as we saw in a couple of seasons in Tamil Nadu and Andhra over the last few years. In fact, the Cyclone Gaja caused immense damage to coconut tree farming in Tamil Nadu in 2018 and wrought havoc on agriculture in many southern districts without quite bringing much rain. In all these events a common thread can be seen in the increasing intensity year by year, which can be attributed to climate change. While global warming cannot be said to be the fount of such events, the fact remains that these climatic catastrophes are getting more and more severe. Standing up to them with the levels of preparation seen this time in Odisha and Andhra are the way to go.

The Centre had granted with alacrity over Rs 1,000 crore in advance for dealing with the Fani cyclone. This comes in direct contrast to the persistent pleas that Kerala and Tamil Nadu had to keep making for funds for the damage and deaths when dealing with the major floods and the Gaja cyclone in 2018. It would appear prudent then that the Centre and states plan a larger contingency fund for dealing with natural calamities and climatic events, both in preparation and reparations. The best way all of India can contribute to buttress this fund is through GST as every Indian who buys anything is paying something. No one would mind if half a percentage point was to go towards building up a corpus towards helping those who face the fury of the monsoons or tropical storms every season, besides landslides and other destruction on hilly terrain.

Tags: cyclone fani, gaja cyclone