After Amphan, Nisarga sounds a warning bell

The developing severe tropical cyclonic storm from the Arabian Sea – Cyclone Nisarga – is expected to create landfall in Raigad district, south of Mumbai, by Wednesday afternoon, India Meteorological Department (IMD) said. The IMD has sounded a red alert for June 4 and 3 in Mumbai and ThaneSindhudurg, Thane, Palghar, Ratnagiri and Raigad districts. Like Amphan, which battered West Bengal and Odisha recently, Nisarga is expected to submerge low-lying areas, uproot trees, destroy uncemented houses and critical infrastructure, and worse, kill people and animals. The aftermath from the storm is going to be challenging too. Nisarga comes at any given time when Maharashtra is definitely inside the grip in the coronavirus pandemic, where there is severe stress on the care system and personnel.

After Amphan

Both Amphan and Nisarga are trailers of what the longer term will seem like for India’s eastern and western coastlines, because of the climate crisis. The weather crisis is making these cyclones stronger and more destructive by boosting the sea surface rainfall and temperature throughout the storm; raising sea levels, which raises the distance which a storm surge can reach; and allowing storms to achieve strength quickly. Indian cities need to adapt quickly to this particular new reality. A high-down climate adaptation and resilience policy will not suffice; the climate crisis will be needing micro-level planning and adaptationadaptation and resilience plans.

To accomplish this, city governments must be politically and financially empowered; and get adequate personnel who understand the climate crisis. On their part, government departments must stop working in silos; to develop a long-term resilience strategy, they need to work together because the climate crisis affects all sectors. For centuries, cities have already been centres of commerce, culture and innovation. They must now develop the ability, the ability, along with the will to battle the climate crisis.