Cyclone Gaja: Being prepared against
Mains Paper 2: Disaster Management
Prelims level: Cyclone Gaja
Mains level: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation,
environmental impact assessment, Disaster and disaster management
- Tamil Nadu was more prepared than before to deal with Cyclone Gaja
when it made landfall between Nagapattinam and Vedaranyam on November 16,
but it still took a toll of at least 45 lives.
- The severe cyclonic storm damaged infrastructure, property and
- The effort to professionalise disaster management through a
dedicated national and State organisation initiated more than 15 years ago
appears to be paying off.,
- In with bureaucracies acquiring higher efficiency in providing
early warning and in mitigating the impact of cyclones.
- The National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project started by the
Ministry of Home Affairs has been working to reduce the impact of such
catastrophic events on Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and
Gujarat, classified as States with higher vulnerability; most western
coastal States are in the next category.
- However, there is a lot to be done to upgrade infrastructure and
housing in coastal districts to meet higher standards of resilience in an
era of extreme weather events.
Measures taken by the government
- The lead taken by the State Disaster Management Authority in
issuing a stream of alerts ahead of Gaja helped coastal residents move to
camps and adopt safety measures.
- The active measures taken by the State after the cyclone, notably
to clear roads, remove fallen trees and repair power infrastructure and
communications, helped restore some stability.
- In its destructive exit path, the cyclone has affected some
southern districts, felling tens of thousands of trees and also 30,000
electricity poles along the coast.
- It also hit residents in some central Kerala districts.
- Tamil Nadu’s political parties have acted in a mature manner and
kept partisan criticism from getting in the way of relief and rehabilitation
- This is in contrast to some earlier instances, such as the Chennai
flood of 2015, when the distribution of relief became politicised.
- Today, if any pressure on the government machinery is necessary,
it is to secure without delay the financial relief of ₹10 lakh that has been
promised for families of the dead, compensation for lost crops, trees and
livestock, provision of emergency health intervention and rehabilitation
assistance to rebuild lives.
- The larger question, of course, is whether the coastal States have
equipped themselves for an even bigger event, such as the super cyclone that
hit Odisha in 1999 that killed about 10,000 people.
- Even with far fewer casualties, Cyclone Phailin in 2013 required
reconstruction estimated at $1.5 billion.
- India’s coastline experiences a lower frequency of tropical
cyclones compared to many other regions, but the loss of life and
destruction is much higher.
- Coastal States must, therefore, focus on reducing the hazard
through policies that expand resilient housing, build better storm shelters
and create financial mechanisms for insurance and compensation.
Q.1) Which country gave the name to the tropical cyclone 'Gaja', which
made landfall in Tamilnadu in November 2018?
d) Sri Lanka
Q.1) Coastal districts must continue to strengthen resilience against
extreme weather events. Explain it.