Trail of destruction

| Updated on May 23, 2020 Published on May 22, 2020

India has learnt to contain cyclone casualties, but needs to take climate adaptation seriously

It has become the norm for an extreme weather episode — flood or cyclone — to pummel at least one region of the country every year, claiming lives and ravaging property, livestock, crops and infrastructure. With the country struggling to cope with the spread of Covid-19 and its socio-economic fallout, Cyclone Amphan could not have struck at a worse time. It has killed over 70 people in West Bengal, and wiped out livelihoods of struggling rural folk. While the West Bengal Chief Minister has estimated the damage at ₹1 lakh crore, an objective assessment by an independent body would be in order. The Prime Minister’s interim grant of ₹1,000 crore is a welcome gesture, but it is unlikely to make a dent. Insurance claims alone are likely to exceed ₹1,000 crore, excluding crop loss. Whether it is the Kerala floods of 2018 and 2019 or the floods last year in northern Karnataka, it is clear that States are forced to beg for funds from the Centre. The Finance Commission must arrive at a credible method to transfer funds to States hit by calamities. Whether it is Covid or Amphan, the politicisation of resource sharing must stop.

However, disaster management has improved over the last two decades, with supercyclones claiming fewer lives over time. Improvements in weather mapping and forecasting have enabled rescue teams to evacuate people from vulnerable zones in time. Cyclone Fani hit Odisha last May, matching Amphan in its fury, but the casualties were not alarming when compared to the 1999 supercyclone. Andhra Pradesh, too, is no stranger to cyclones and has learnt to deal with it. However, what is often missed out is the lasting trauma of disruption — of life and even dignity.

With global warming raising sea levels and temperatures, the frequency of supercyclones and floods has increased the world over. A sea temperature of above 26 degrees Centigrade creates conditions for a cyclonic depression, which whips up high wind speeds and dumps phenomenal quantities of rain. The US was wracked by three hurricanes — Harvey, Irma and Maria — in 2017 alone. Scientists have pointed to the possible link between global warming, deforestation and the outbreak of new disease strains — besides pests that thrive in long spells of drought. The developed world must address the climate adaptation needs of tropical countries, meeting its obligations towards the Green Climate Fund. In September last year, India estimated a requirement of $206 billion between 2015 and 2030 (at 2014-15 prices) to protect farming and fisheries. Climate finance has become a life-and-death matter.

Published on May 22, 2020

A letter from the Editor

Dear Readers,

The coronavirus crisis has changed the world completely in the last few months. All of us have been locked into our homes, economic activity has come to a near standstill. Everyone has been impacted.

Including your favourite business and financial newspaper. Our printing and distribution chains have been severely disrupted across the country, leaving readers without access to newspapers. Newspaper delivery agents have also been unable to service their customers because of multiple restrictions.

In these difficult times, we, at BusinessLine have been working continuously every day so that you are informed about all the developments – whether on the pandemic, on policy responses, or the impact on the world of business and finance. Our team has been working round the clock to keep track of developments so that you – the reader – gets accurate information and actionable insights so that you can protect your jobs, businesses, finances and investments.

We are trying our best to ensure the newspaper reaches your hands every day. We have also ensured that even if your paper is not delivered, you can access BusinessLine in the e-paper format – just as it appears in print. Our website and apps too, are updated every minute, so that you can access the information you want anywhere, anytime.

But all this comes at a heavy cost. As you are aware, the lockdowns have wiped out almost all our entire revenue stream. Sustaining our quality journalism has become extremely challenging. That we have managed so far is thanks to your support. I thank all our subscribers – print and digital – for your support.

I appeal to all or readers to help us navigate these challenging times and help sustain one of the truly independent and credible voices in the world of Indian journalism. Doing so is easy. You can help us enormously simply by subscribing to our digital or e-paper editions. We offer several affordable subscription plans for our website, which includes Portfolio, our investment advisory section that offers rich investment advice from our highly qualified, in-house Research Bureau, the only such team in the Indian newspaper industry.

A little help from you can make a huge difference to the cause of quality journalism!


Support Quality Journalism
  1. Comments will be moderated by The Hindu Business Line editorial team.
  2. Comments that are abusive, personal, incendiary or irrelevant cannot be published.
  3. Please write complete sentences. Do not type comments in all capital letters, or in all lower case letters, or using abbreviated text. (example: u cannot substitute for you, d is not 'the', n is not 'and').
  4. We may remove hyperlinks within comments.
  5. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name, to avoid rejection.
You have read 1 out of 3 free articles for this week. For full access, please subscribe and get unlimited access to all sections.