The extremely severe cyclonic storm Tauktae has caused not only widespread damage all along the western coast from the tip of India to Gujarat but also affected normally secure barges allied to oil exploration. In fact, the loss of life may become the highest among those from ONGC stationed on Arabian Sea barges as many are still missing, which poses a huge challenge to the brave Indian Navy crew who are risking their lives in daring search and rescue operations in mid sea amid the turbulence caused by the storm. The toll may run to 100 or more considering Gujarat itself has lost at least 45 people on land even as coastal Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra have lost people as the states were in the path as the storm barrelled its way.
Weather events like annual tropical storms in the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea are bound to get more severe as time passes as the phenomena are clearly linked to climate change caused by global warming, which is also known to raise sea surface temperatures. We may be somewhat more fortunate in the most modern era as forecasts of such storms are getting more accurate and are issued days in advance from a better equipped IMD, which also has free access to forecasts from international organisations and weather watchers on the web.
No tribute can be too high for personnel of the services and disaster response forces who are deployed in advance in the storm’s path and help to mitigate the effects of supercyclones. Coastal infrastructure invariably takes the biggest hits, among them the ramshackle beach huts of Goa and film sets of Mumbai this time. With the Centre not known to be too generous or to come forward with timely disaster funds, it is largely up to the states to help vulnerable coastal communities and fishermen cope with the weather hazards. To make sturdier infra on the coast would, of course, call for great capital expenditure.