Reporting Observable Calamities due to Disasters and Climate Change

Session Report
Mansi Garg

Understanding the Nuances of Climate Change in the Indian Subcontinent: Impact and Way Forward is an Online International Monsoon School Program, a Six-Week Immersive Online Introductory Certificate Training Course from August-September 2023 by IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute. An informative and interactive panel discussion on “Reporting Observable Calamities due to Disasters and Climate Change” was held on the 19th of August 2023 by Mr Himanshu Shekhar, Senior Editor (Political and Current Affairs), New Delhi Television Limited (NDTV India), New Delhi.

Introduction to Calamities

Session was opened by Mr Himanshu Shekhar and he started with the fact that past 5 months were very impactful in terms of the subject on which the whole event is based. March was the time when parts of western UP large part of crops the group specially the crops were affected because of strong and unseasonal rates and then speaker shared that, he started reporting on the heat wave which had come much earlier than the summer season usually seeps in which had an impact on the feet drops which of course at that time was almost right for harvest.

Next, the expert highlighted an issue emerged during the last three months of the monsoon season, lots of erratic rainfall patterns have been observed. At the same time parts of Himachal Pradesh is undergoing the worst disaster experience in last almost five decades. In the recent times, Home Ministry stated that around 330 people have already been in these disaster and calamities incidents which is very unfortunate and the losses which is now estimated to be more than 10,000 crores and Himachal Pradesh of course is a very small state with infrastructure largely conditioned for tourism. 

India’s Context on Reporting Calamities and Disasters

India’s average temperature has risen by around 0.7 degrees Celsius from 1901 to 2018 and frequency of daily precipitation extremes that is rainfall intensities of more than 150mm per day increased by about 75% during 1950 to 2015. The frequency and spatial extent of droughts over India has increased significantly during 1951 to 2015.

In the context of what India’s top agricultural scientists said, that, in next 16 years by 2014 they expected to be a 1-degree Celsius increase in the temperature during the wheat growing season which is January to March of every year and this could actually lead to a 5 to 6% decline in the yield.

Sea level rise in the north Indian Ocean occurred at a rate of 3.3 M per year in the last 2 1/2 decades that is 1993 to 2017. Also, frequency of severe cyclonic storms and calamities over Arabian Sea has increased during the post monsoon season of 1998 to 2018. Institutes should increase better monitoring and early warning system setup, a report actually highlighted the fact that there are weaknesses in our response strategy as the report said in the first part that NRF doesn’t have a special air fleet which can be used to fly jawans.

Also, professor Amita Singh would set up a special Center for disaster research in JNU, she said that Himalayan region needs a new Research Institute to study all these changes and calamities because parliamentary standing committee says that at the moment the state of the glaciers is not being monitored very effectively and that they also needs an early warning system to prevent air be cautious about calamities.

Case Scenarios with focus on Climate and Calamities

Speaker shared his ground reporting videos on the stated subject which covered majorly the impacts of climate on the crops from different parts of India and the temperature which is estimated to increase by 1% by 2040 eventually having an impact on glaciers. In the videos, Director of Indian Council for Cultural Research Mr. Ashok Singh tell about the latest research by India’s top agricultural scientists as to what climate change needs means for them especially in terms of the production of very crucial products like need for these days or rise.

In 2018, an interview conducted by the speaker with the director general of Media apartment, who claimed that the flood in Kerala was an outcome of Climate change and since then, India’s most prominent cities have fallen victim to disasters which also makes it very imperative for scientists of the country to launch a large-scale research study to show how the climate change actually is having impact on the world. During the interview, the speaker engaged in a discussion with a senior scientist from the MET department, aiming to understand the escalating abnormal changes observed during the monsoon season.

In response, the scientist highlighted that addressing this issue requires a comprehensive study spanning 35 to 40 years to establish a definitive assessment. This extensive research is essential to determine if a discernible climate change is underway, influencing India’s monsoon patterns leading to natural and uncalled calamities. As of now, such an exhaustive study hasn’t been conducted, making it challenging for scientists to definitively attribute the observed problems to a specific cause.

Conclusion

To conclude with, Mr. Shekhar concludes with some examples. One such is, the coastal belt on the western side on the West Coast and Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and many crucial economic states and whenever such disasters or calamities, especially cyclones takes place in this area it has led to large amount of economic losses though because of a very good response strategy the losses have been minimized because large scale evacuations are now initiated and we can now know every minute where the cyclone is at what time so that the effects can be minimised.

Acknowledgement: Mansi Gang is a research intern at IMPRI.

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