Weathering Biparjoy Storm that left behind a trail of destruction
From experiencing 10,000 deaths during the Super Cyclone of 1999 to only 10 deaths during Cyclone Yaas in 2001, Odisha has set a precedent, according to experts.
The noise surrounding the trail of destruction that cyclone Biparjoy would leave in its wake has somewhat subsided since its formation 10 days ago in the Arabian Sea. However, as it made landfall near Jakhau Port in Gujarat on Thursday evening, with wind speeds ranging between 115 kmph and 140 kmph lives were shattered.
Cyclone Biparjoy has left behind a trail of destruction. The cyclonic storm Biparjoy wreaked havoc in Gujarat on Thursday, injuring 23 individuals. Heavy rain and high winds uprooted 1,137 trees and obstructed 263 roads, damaging 5,120 electricity poles, leading to power disruptions in over 4,600 villages. Though there were no direct fatalities, a tragic incident occurred in the Bhavnagar district, where a cattle rearer and his son lost their lives while attempting to rescue their goats trapped in a ravine. Although it is premature to provide an exact count, the number of fatalities is expected to be low.
Is India better prepared?
Sufficient shelters, power supply, medical provisions, and emergency services were put in place. Fifteen teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), twelve teams of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), 115 teams from the state road and building department, and 397 teams from the state electricity department were put on alert. 33 teams were assigned by the NDRF for relief and rescue operations in Gujarat. The Bhuj Air Force station served as a base for the Indian Air Force’s ‘Garuda’ Emergency Response Team. The Army personnel were fully prepared to aid in rescue and relief operations. Nearly one lakh people were evacuated to safer areas.
Biparjoy became the fourth major cyclone to impact the Gujarat coast in the last five years. Cyclone Vayu made landfall in 2019, followed by Nisarga in 2020, which affected both Maharashtra and coastal Gujarat. In 2021, Tauktae made landfall near Diu-Una, resulting in widespread destruction. Gujarat has faced four major cyclones from 1998 to 2018 over a span of 20 years.
The preparedness was motivated by what is now seen and called the Odisha model. The state has emerged as a role model in terms of evacuating people and saving lives. From experiencing 10,000 deaths during the Super Cyclone of 1999 to only 10 deaths during Cyclone Yaas in 2001, Odisha has set a precedent, according to experts. Odisha achieved this feat by emphasizing community-level warnings, constructing multipurpose cyclone shelters under the National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project, and establishing an Early Warning Dissemination System.
How are Cyclones Formed?
The Indian subcontinent is one of the most severely affected. With a coastline stretching 8,041 kilometers, it is exposed to nearly 10 % of the world’s tropical cyclones. The majority of these originate over the Bay of Bengal and strike the East coast of India. On average, 5-6 tropical cyclones form every year, with 2-3 of them potentially becoming severe.
Biparjoy and the process of naming
The name ‘Biparjoy’, suggested by Bangladesh, means a major disaster. The selection of this name, along with other tropical cyclone names, followed a meticulous and unbiased process. The 13 participating countries in Asia-Pacific region, adhered to guidelines to prevent biases related to politics, figures, beliefs, cultures, or gender.
— Text by Ketan Narottam Tanna and Jitendra Choubey.