Supporting IMD’s Tremendous Efforts
Odisha was severely hit by a super cyclone in 1999. The cyclone claimed nearly 50 thousands lives as per unofficial estimates (official figure was a little over 12 thousand), apart from destroying properties and crops worth crores of rupees. The devastation and damage could not be avoided as Indian cyclone warning system was not up to the mark then. But credit should be given to Indian authority for changing the scenario within the next two decades. Today, due to early and accurate predictions, cyclones cannot claim as many lives as before. Casualty rate due to cyclone has come down drastically and this is no mean achievement. Though damages to properties and crops are unavoidable when a cyclone unfolds, it is India’s pin point accuracy while making cyclone forecasts that has earned praises from various international institutions. Those institutions are of the opinion that in the coming years India will be able to save many more lives, no matter how severe the cyclone is. Learning a lesson from the 1999 super cyclone, in which wind speeds touched 230 km per hour at, Odisha was the first state to adopt a ‘no casualty’ policy during cyclone. In no time, the state has achieved remarkable success in that mission. For its efforts, Odisha Government has even been awarded by United Nations (UN). But it is clear that without accurate forecasts, it would have been impossible to achieve such a feat. Getting pictures from satellites and making predictions based on those pictures, is not an easy task. But now, because of efficient scientists in Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) working round the clock, whether predictions are far more accurate, and that is not limited only to cyclone season, but extends to all other seasons as well. This accuracy is helping people from all walks of life, especially farmers, fishermen and others, whose livelihoods are dependent on the environment. The track forecast error is almost negligible now. India is now in the list of top countries capable of making weather forecasts correctly for 24, 48 and 72 hours.
During the last five years many cyclones have hit the Indian coast. Starting from Vardha, Fani, Hudhud, Mekunu, Luban, and Titli to recent Amphan and Nisarga, the met department had made accurate forecasts in all cases. In regard to the information on the origin of the cyclone, its strength and trajectory, landfall, wind speed, etc. the IMD had kept the people informed on minute to minute basis. Take the case of recent Amphan, during which the West Bengal government had removed over five lakh people from the Sundarbans area after being warned by IMD. Once the cyclone was over, State Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had thanked the Meteorological department for saving the lives of so many people. But notwithstanding the success of IMD, there is still much more to be done to further reduce damages during cyclones. We will have to build more cyclone centers along the coastal areas of the country. Special arrangements should be made for livestock also as, in this regard we are yet to achieve much success. Crops in the coastal area should be insured so as to ensure that the farmers get adequate compensation when faced with such devastating natural calamities. Only then, will we be able to properly complement IMD’s tremendous achievements and be able to truly limit the damages by natural disasters.