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Evaluation of Vardah impact in Chennai (Relevant for GS Prelims and GS Mains Paper I and II)

State of Chennai after encountering Vardah:
Chennai’s durability has been challenged by the severe cyclonic storm, Vardah. The storm hobbled the city’s infrastructure by nightfall, downing power and communication cables, blocking roads, disrupting rail and air transport, and spreading a carpet of darkness.

It is to the Tamil Nadu government’s credit that basic mobility was restored overnight, and fallen trees were removed to allow some traffic to ply. 

Role of technology in overcoming the impact of catastrophe:
Vardah also demonstrated that in the time of social media and the Internet, speedy official and community messages can influence the outcome of a catastrophe.

While economic damage was inevitable, cautionary advice put out on social platforms urging people to stay safe helped reduce the number of casualties. Remarkably, the community also responded with readiness, creating online groups and sharing messages offering help and advice. It is of course possible to learn even more by going back to citizens and harnessing data on their experience using online tools.

Stats of destruction over east coast of India:
Tropical storms are an annual affair, with the more vulnerable eastern coast taking a pummelling from 92 severe cyclones out of a total of 262 between 1891 and 1990, and several more in the years since.

Way Forward:
It is vital, therefore, that the learnings from each event are shared nationally, and the capacity of officials and communities to manage disasters built continuously. Among the securities available to individuals in many countries is insurance against property losses.

Suggested Measures includes:
1. Viable policies should be made available in India too, as this would bring scrutiny on administrative measures and potentially improve outcomes.
2. A citywide blackout also underscores the importance of rooftop solar and battery storage systems as supplementary power sources for households and corporates. 
3. Planting trees with strong root systems and pruning the canopy ahead of cyclone season could reduce uprooting.
 

 



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