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India’s Preparedness is Exemplary

Context:

Cyclone Michaung struck Southern India, specifically Andhra Pradesh near Bapatla, on December 4, 2023, with winds reaching 100 kmph. Before making landfall, intense rainfall led to destructive flooding in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, resulting in at least nine fatalities.

Relevance:

  • GS1- Important Geophysical Phenomena
  • GS3- Disaster Management

Mains Question:

From Tsunami of 2004 to the recent Cyclone Biparjoy, India has made remarkable progress in dealing with natural calamities. Analyse. (10 marks, 150 words).

About Cyclones:

  • General Description: Cyclones are extensive atmospheric systems revolving around a central low-pressure area, frequently accompanied by severe storms.
  • Extratropical Cyclones: Located beyond the tropics, these cyclones possess a cold core and derive energy from the interaction of cold and warm air masses. They can originate over both land and water.
  • Tropical Cyclones: Originating in tropical areas, these cyclones are fueled by the condensation of water vapor. Devoid of associated warm or cold fronts, they are referred to as hurricanes or typhoons in various regions.

About Cyclone Michaung:

Michaung marks the fourth tropical cyclone in the Bay of Bengal this year.

Details about Cyclone Michaung:

  • Unusual Intensity: December cyclones in the North Indian Ocean typically do not achieve high intensities; however, Michaung, classified as a severe storm, stands out as an exception.
  • Intensification Upgrade: Initially categorized as a tropical cyclone, Michaung was upgraded to a ‘severe’ storm by the IMD due to its unexpected strengthening.
  • Contribution of Heat Index: The intensification is linked to higher-than-normal heat index values observed off the southern Andhra Pradesh coast.

Overview of Indian Tropical Storms:

  • Annual Cyclone Average: The North Indian Ocean basin sees an average of about five cyclones annually, primarily occurring in the Bay of Bengal.
  • Arabian Sea Cyclones: While less frequent, cyclones in the Arabian Sea often reach higher intensities and have the potential to cause substantial damage.
  • Peak Cyclone Seasons: Cyclones are most prevalent during the pre-monsoon (April-June) and post-monsoon (October-December) months, with May and November experiencing more intense storms.

More on the Cyclone:

  • The Indian Meteorological Department issued ‘severe cyclonic storm’ warnings, prompting the suspension of various activities, including industrial operations, transport services, businesses, and schools.
  • Chennai airport temporarily closed due to flooding, and 29 additional National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams were deployed along the Andhra coast for ongoing rescue operations.
  • The state’s response to ‘Cyclone Yaas’ in Odisha serves as a model, significantly reducing casualties through technological integration, strategic planning, and the establishment of disaster management authorities.

India’s Journey in Disaster Management:

Following the 2004 Tsunami, India recognized the necessity for a comprehensive disaster management framework, resulting in the enactment of the ‘Disaster Management Act of 2005’ and the establishment of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

Regarding the Disaster Management Act, 2005:

  • The Disaster Management Act, 2005, is a legislation enacted by the Indian Parliament to facilitate the effective handling of disasters and related matters.
  • The act comprises 11 chapters and 79 sections and received approval from the President of India on December 23, 2005. However, it officially came into effect in January 2006. Section 2 of the Disaster Management Act provides a definition for disaster, describing it as a “catastrophe, mishap, calamity, or grave occurrence in any area, arising from natural or man-made causes.”

Key Features of the Disaster Management Act, 2005:

  • The act designates the Ministry of Home Affairs as the central ministry responsible for overseeing national disaster management.
  • It establishes a structured framework of institutions at the national, state, and district levels. At the national level, four crucial entities include:
  • The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA): Headed by the Prime Minister, it formulates disaster management policies and ensures prompt and effective response mechanisms. The NDMA comprises a maximum of nine members, including a Vice-Chairperson, each with a tenure of five years.
  • The National Executive Committee (NEC): Comprising secretary-level officers from various ministries, it assists the NDMA in home, health, power, finance, and agriculture.
  • The National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM): An institute dedicated to training and capacity development for managing natural calamities.
  • National Disaster Response Force (NDRF): Comprising trained professional units for specialized disaster response, led by a Director-General appointed by the Central Government.
  • The act also establishes state and district level authorities tasked with formulating plans for the implementation of national and local disaster management plans.
  • State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA): Responsible for devising the disaster plan for the respective state, with the Chief Minister as the chairperson and eight members appointed by the Chief Minister.
  • District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA): Led by the Collector, District Magistrate, or Deputy Commissioner, the DDMA serves at the district level.
  • These provisions empower the designated authorities to prepare, implement, and coordinate disaster management plans at various administrative levels.
  • Emphasizing early warning systems, the Indian Tsunami Early Warning Centre (ITEWC) was set up in 2007, equipped with advanced technology to monitor seismic activity and issue timely alerts, crucial for India’s vulnerability to earthquakes and tsunamis.
  • The Indian Tsunami Early Warning System (ITEWS) was established in 2007 and is situated at and operated by INCOIS in Hyderabad. It represents a collaborative initiative involving various organizations such as the Department of Space (DOS), Department of Science and Technology (DST), the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Survey of India (SOI), and the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT).
  • ITEWS incorporates a real-time network consisting of seismic stations and tide gauges, along with a 24×7 operational tsunami warning center.
  • Its primary objectives include detecting tsunamigenic earthquakes, monitoring tsunamis, and issuing timely advisories to vulnerable communities.
  • Indian scientists can detect substantial undersea earthquakes in the Indian Ocean in real-time and provide a tsunami warning within 10-20 minutes of the earthquake occurrence.
  • India’s approach to disasters involves community-based responses and national solidarity. In instances like the 2018 Kerala floods, involving local communities in planning and response mechanisms has proven effective.
  • Integrating traditional knowledge with modern technology, as witnessed during the 2019 earthquake in the Andaman Islands, showcased the efficacy of early warning systems.
  • Flood management in India has seen technological interventions, with the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) utilizing satellite imagery for monitoring river basins and assessing flood risks. During the 2013 Uttarakhand floods, geospatial technology aided accurate mapping of affected areas, facilitating rescue operations.
  • The INDRISHTI application developed by the NDRF allowed real-time information sharing among agencies for a synchronized response.

Conclusion:

Despite these advancements, ongoing efforts are crucial, especially in vulnerable regions like the Himalayas, susceptible to earthquakes. Continued research and preparedness are essential to address persistent vulnerabilities.


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