This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by PRASANTA PATRI. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Why Odisha Is The Most Cyclone Prone State In The Country


WhyOnEarth logo mobEditor’s Note: Are you bothered by the drastic changes in our climate, causing extreme weather events and calamities such as the Kerala Floods? #WhyOnEarth aims to take the truth to the people with stories, experiences, opinions and revelations about the climate change reality that you should know, and act on. Have a story to share? Click here and publish.

This post is part of theYKA Climate Action Fellowship, a 10-week integrated bootcamp to work on stories that highlight the impact of climate change on India’s most marginalized. Click here to find out more and apply.

As per the Global Environmental Negotiation journal, if the sea level rises 1 meter from the current level, 1,70,000 hectare of cultivable land in the state is likely to submerge. 

Let’s go back to 1999 when Odisha faced one of the greatest cyclonic disasters ever recorded – the Super Cyclone also called the 1999 Odisha cyclone. Originating about 550 km east of the Andaman Island, it hit the state at a wind speed of approximately 300 kmph and affected 14 coastal districts, 28 coastal towns and two major cities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. Nearly ten thousand lost their lives in the cyclone, and 13 million were affected by it.

Representational image only.

I was just 9 years old when it hit the state, having no knowledge of what climate change or any of the terms related to extreme climatic events meant. But I can still remember it, and the destruction it caused. It was in this way that I first became aware of the impact of our environment on our well being.  

I have lived in the state for years now, and I don’t think it will be wrong to say that these extreme climate events have shaped my life in myriad ways, With nearly one-third of cyclones of the east coast hitting its coastal belt, the state and its residents have grown accustomed to witnessing the vicissitudes of climate-changing.

Witnessing these events since childhood became a major motivation for me to become a researcher and eventually to pursue my PhD in climate change. Presently, I work in the broad areas of climate change economics and its impact on human health, agriculture, energy etc. Simultaneously, my research also aims to provide policy suggestions and adaptation and mitigation strategies to minimise its impact. 

Odisha: The State Most Prone To Natural Disasters

Of the last 105 years, Odisha has been declared disaster-affected for 95 years: floods have occurred for 50 years, droughts for 32 years and cyclones have struck the state for 11 years. It has experienced around 952 small and big cyclones and 451 tornadoes between 1891 and 1970. From 1901 to 1981 there were 380 cyclones, of which 272 resulted from depressions in the Bay of Bengal. Twenty-nine of these cyclones were devastating. A study of the effects of natural disasters reveals that between 1963 and 1999, Odisha experienced 13 major disasters, which killed 22,228 people and rendered more than 34 lakhs of people homeless. Cyclone Fani, which hit Odisha in 2019, caused damage worth over 9000 crores in the state, devastating as many as 20,367 villages and affecting 1.6 crore people.

Representational image only.

Lately, there has also been an increase in the frequency of cyclones largely due to a rise in sea surface temperature  (SST) caused by climate change. Research, in fact. points to there being a direct positive relationship between rising in SST and rise in tropical cyclonic activities in the seawater affecting coastal areas. Approximately 30 per cent of the world’s tropical cyclones form in the western north pacific region due to oceanic warm water of 30 degree Celsius. 

Why Odisha Is Vulnerable To Cyclonic Activity

Studying SST data for the Bay of Bengal, we can now confirm the positive relationship between SST rise and tropical cyclone frequency and associated human life loss in India. 

Another reason why Odisha is particularly vulnerable to cyclonic activity due to its geography and topography. In the Bay of Bengal region, tropical cyclones tend to travel upward in the northwest direction, due to the shape of the Indian sub-continent and storms usually spin in the anti-clockwise direction. 

Because states on the east coast of the country have relatively flatter land, as compared to the west coast, it doesn’t allow for much deflection of the wind. Moreover, Odisha lies at a place in India’s coastline where it curves, making its location an easy target for storms and cyclones. 

In addition, the Bay of Bengal also gets cyclones formed over the Pacific ocean, where there is no landmass that is big enough to stop them. The Bay of Bengal also happens to be much warmer than the Arabian Sea with many more storms brewing over it, compared to the Arabian sea. 

Since the 1999 cyclone, a lot has changed in Odisha. Improved disaster preparedness, better weather forecast and early evacuation have meant that the state has been able to reduce damage caused due to cyclones. consistently reduced damage caused by cyclones throughout the country. 

However, the state continues to weather storms and cyclones with property loss due to these events steadily growing every year for the last few decades due to climate change.  

Representational image only.

As per the Global Environmental Negotiation journal, if the sea level rises 1 meter from the current level, 1,70,000 hectare of cultivable land in the state is likely to submerge. 

And even though Odisha was one of the first states to have its draft on Climate Change Action Plan and Disaster Preparedness Action Plan, the plan’s implementation at ground level still requires a lot of concrete action. 

Keeping these factors in mind, it is important that the government and policymakers pay attention to the issue of climate change and devise suitable adaptation and coping mechanisms so that better solutions and developmental strategies can be implemented in the state, to avoid any preventable damage. 

By Prasanta Patri

You must be to comment.


Similar Posts

By Ena Zafar

By Imran Khan

By Prabhat Misra

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below