Show of wisdom
India has taken steps to withstand the destructive force of cyclone Vayu upon its landfall today. 52 National Disaster Relief Force teams have been positioned in Gujarat and Diu for assistance to the local authorities as preparedness was strengthened. The cyclone's trajectory has been analysed and intensity has been studied to predict its advancement once it makes landfall. Experts have stressed how Vayu has picked up moisture from the southwest monsoon and grown in intensity. Heavy rainfall is anticipated and strong winds have blown as far as Mumbai. The local administration has been on its toes ever since IMD issued an advisory of the forthcoming cyclone. Analyses have conveyed that Vayu may not be as strong as Fani with its wind attaining a maximum wind speed of anywhere between 110-150 kmph while Fani was well above 220 kmph. Fani exemplified disaster preparedness to prevent loss of human lives even as it racked up a bill of over 9,000 crores to the state exchequer. But since forecast and analyses aided us in a timely evacuation, the cost can never outweigh the achievement. Yet, a cyclone-prone state such as Odisha learned another important lesson that glorified the need to be cyclone-resilient. Man cannot do anything about the actions of nature. His only options are excessive preparedness and damage control. Odisha brilliantly carried out the former while suffered a blow in the latter. And, Odisha's experience is of the essence to Gujarat as it prepares for Vayu's aftermath. Gujarat chief secretary has sought his Odisha counter part's advice in this crucial time and sharing of information will definitely be of help in guiding the relief programme. IMD, Ahemadabad Director affirmed that cyclones are a common sight in the Arabian Sea this time but Vayu's intensity increased due to its coinciding with the onset of monsoon. The country's experience with Fani will beneficial in tackling Vayu but more of use in the relief process and rebuilding process. Cyclone renders a devastating state where damage to infrastructure and livelihood is the byproduct of a painful reality of being displaced and decimated. Rehabilitation coupled with rebuilding the affected area assumes priority as the damage is assessed. An analysis of the damage can further enable the state to take measures in the interest of the area and people. Geo-tagging coastal areas as cyclone-prone with even a basic level of cyclone-resilient development and maintenance will yield tremendously for future instances. Given the predicted longevity of Vayu post-landfall, the damage inflicted would be very less to that of Fani. Expediting the rehabilitation programme for Vayu-affected areas will be a display of expertise of the kind desirable from the country's experience with cyclones. Reports confirm evacuation of at least 1.60 lakh people from low-lying areas of Saurashtra and Kutch regions which is only the start of rescue and relief operations that Gujarat and Diu will be in need of.
Two cyclones in a span of 40 days narrate the extent of preparedness as well as challenges that the country must be ready for. It is a relief that Vayu's trajectory does not include any major urban centre but may also be a wake-up call to draft emergency plans in case future is not too kind. Cyclonic developments, irrespective of coinciding with the south-western monsoon, muster an important question: whether our coastlines, which are now laced with urban fauna, insulated from such consequences? And, if they are not, then what must be done. It is possible that Climate Change may facilitate such cyclonic activity. While we will have the likes of IMD to help us identify potential threats of this manner, our on-ground preparedness will ultimately determine the aftermath. With a less severe cyclone on cards and proactive preparedness positioned to combat consequences, Gujarat must display the country's commitment to learning from such calamities for future events of similar adversity which remain beyond human control.