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Cyclone Amphan: West Bengal takes Rs 1 lakh crore hit, 61% of state revenues

Niti Kiran     May 22, 2020

Amphan, which means sky in Thai, could very well live up to its name as the super cyclone has caused unprecedented havoc in parts of West Bengal and Odisha with West Bengal staring at an estimated losses of up to Rs 1 lakh crore, as pegged by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

This is just the first tropical cyclone of the 2020 North Indian Ocean cyclone season, and the destruction seems humongous when facts are put into perspective, especially against the state's budgeted revenue receipts. The estimated losses of Rs 1 lakh crore stand at around 61 per cent of the state's budgeted revenue receipts of Rs 1.6 lakh crore for FY20. Its influence on the state's output, or the GSDP (for FY18) is just a shy of 10 per cent.

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Another measure that gauges the economic impact of this cyclone globally is its proportion in the direct economic losses and damage from natural disasters in 2019, which stood at around 6 per cent. The damage was almost 1.6 times the overall economic loss of $8.1 billion caused by the extremely severe cyclonic storm FANI which had hit India and Bangladesh in the first week of May 2019.   

Globally, direct economic losses and damage from natural disasters in 2019 were estimated at $232 billion, as per AON's Weather, Climate & Catastrophe Insight, 2019 annual report. This was, however, 3 per cent lower than the average $239 billion and 5 per cent lower than the median $243 billion during the 21st century. The costliest global peril around the world since 2000 has been tropical cyclone, according to the report. The losses were extreme in 2004, 2005, 2012, 2017 and 2018, which accounted for nearly $909 billion of the total $1.43 trillion alone.

The Indian sub-continent is the worst affected region of the world with tropical cyclones having a coastline of 7516 kms. There are 13 coastal states or UTs surrounding 84 coastal districts which are affected by cyclones. Four states -- Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal -- and one UT - Pondicherry - on the East Coast and one state -- Gujarat -- on the West Coast are more vulnerable to cyclone disasters. Normally cyclones occur in the month of May-June and October-November, with primary peak in November and secondary peak in May. Although cyclones affect the entire coast of India, the East Coast is more prone to it compared to the West Coast.

At least 80 people have been reported killed so far in West Bengal due to the extremely severe cyclone Amphan. The forecasting of cyclones is done by the India Meteorological Department (IMD)and with accurate predictions consistently for cyclones like Phailin (2013), HudHud (2014), Vardha (2016), Mekunu (2018), Sagar (2018), Titli (2018), Luban (2018), Fani (2019), Hikaa (2019) and Bulbul (2019), it has helped disaster managers to minimise the loss of lives to less than 100 due to tropical cyclones.

As per an IMD release in December 2019, 12 cyclonic disturbances (CDs) developed over the north side of the Indian Ocean in 2019 including four over the Bay of Bengal and eight over the Arabian Sea.

Also read: Cyclone Amphan: PM Modi to survey affected areas in West Bengal, Odisha on Friday

Also read: Cyclone Amphan: Death toll rises to 77 in West Bengal, electricity, mobile services restored in some areas

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