South 24-Parganas which encompasses a major portion of the Sunderbans is the most cyclone-affected district in the country, finds a study carried out by the India Meteorological Department in Pune.
The first-of-its-kind analysis called Climate Hazards and Vulnerability Atlas of India was conducted recently by the wing of climate research and services at the IMD.
The finding was based on all cyclones which passed within 50 nautical miles (about 90km) of India’s coastal districts between 1961 and 2020.
The analysis showed that the return period for the cyclonic storms of all intensities was 1.67 years in South 24-Parganas on a scale of 1.5 to 60 years. Severe cyclones struck the district once in 2.61 years when they were studied in a range of two to 60 years.
Shorter return period means more frequent occurrence of cyclones and hence more vulnerability.
South 24-Parganas was followed by Kendrapara in Odisha and Nellor in Andhra Pradesh as well as Purba Medinipur in Bengal in terms of the return period of all kinds of cyclones. Cyclones hit Kendrapara once in 1.94 years and Nellore and Purba Medinipur in two years.
However, when it comes to severe cyclones, Balasore in Odisha and Villupuram in Tamil Nadu were next on the impact list with 2.86 years and three years of return period, respectively. “This first-of-its-kind study clearly indicates that the Sunderbans within the coastal region of South 24-Paraganas is one of the most vulnerable areas in the country,” scientist Pulak Guhathakurta, head of the climate division at the IMD, told The Telegraph.
Guhathakurta ,who prepared the report, pointed out that even Purba Medinipur stands quite vulnerable in terms of the cyclone return period.
“The web atlas is depicted using Geographic Information System tools and provides districts’ maps on hazard events and vulnerability. The report is prepared based on the climatological and census data and housing density,” said a senior official associated with the study. “Four per cent of the districts and 7 per cent of the population are highly vulnerable for cyclones and most of the coastal districts of east coast are high to very highly vulnerable for Cyclone” reads the report, which showed 25 districts on east coast — 10 in Tamil Nadu, seven in Andhra Pradesh, six in Odisha and two in Bengal — are vulnerable.
“The finding is in sync with the number of cyclones which hit the Sunderbans in the past three years,” said a senior official in the state disaster management department.
“The region was pummelled by one major cyclone after another, like Bulbul, Amphan, Yaas and recently Jawad; not to talk about Aila in 2009.”
A recent World Bank study has pointed out that the Sunderbans and Odisha are now facing the brunt of cyclonic impact on India’s east coast.
Rainy weekend forecast
The weekend is likely to be overcast and rainy in Kolkata and the rest of Bengal.
A westernd disturbance over northwest and central India will bring about the overcast condition, the Met office has said.
The cold spell the city has been under since Monday is likely to be interrupted from Friday.
“The clouds are set to arrive from Friday. A drizzle is not ruled out. But light to moderate rain is more likely in Kolkata on Sunday and Monday,” said G.K. Das, director, India Meteorological Department, Kolkata.
A Met official in Alipore said the night temperature would eventually rise up to the “17-degree range” during the wet spell.
Wednesday’s minimum temperature in Kolkata was 13.3 degrees.
Our Special Correspondent