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Day 74 – Q 3.Odisha’s promptness and effectiveness in mitigating cyclones makes it a model state disaster management. Elucidate.

3. Odisha’s promptness and effectiveness in mitigating cyclones makes it a model state disaster management. Elucidate. 

चक्रवातों को कम करने में ओडिशा की तत्परता और प्रभावशीलता इसे एक मॉडल राज्य आपदा प्रबंधन राज्य बनाती है। स्पष्ट करें।


Learning its lessons from the super-cyclone of 1999 which claimed 10,000 lives in Odisha, the eastern state has, over the years, emerged as a role model in disaster preparedness. With decades of positive intervention by the government, civil society groups, and NGOs, the state has received praise from numerous national and international organisations, including the United Nations.


  • In the aftermath of Cyclone Fani, one of the worst cyclones to hit India’s eastern coastline, Odisha had proved it is one of the most disaster-ready states in the world. In preparation for Cyclone Fani, Odisha carried out ‘one of the biggest human evacuations in history,’ with more than a million people evacuated into 9,000 shelters in 24 hours.
  • According to UN, Odisha’s zero casualty approach to managing extreme weather events is a major contribution to the implementation of the Sendai Framework (for disaster risk reduction) and the reduction of loss of life from such events.
  • The Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA) was established in 1999, much before the Disaster Management Act was passed in 2005, and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) was constituted in 2001. OSDMA was the first disaster management authority centre established in India, or perhaps the world, given its scale of operations.
  • Even today, Odisha, along with Assam, Gujarat, and Bihar are the only states with active State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMAs). These states have their own offices, management, and staff. In most states, SDMAs are still being run out of the State Revenue Department Office, which is a temporary arrangement

Even more recently, Cyclone Bulbul in 2019 highlighted how Odisha has mastered disaster management – with lessons for other disaster-prone cities and states. In this regard, lessons in disaster relief for the country include :

  • Resilient infrastructure (cyclone shelters) – The Odisha State Disaster Mitigation Authority (OSDMA), a constituent of the state government, designed some 800 multipurpose cyclone and flood shelters in the coastal districts in association with the Institute of Information Technology (IIT) Kharagpur.
  • Autonomous disaster-management authority – The Odisha Disaster Management Authority (ODMA) was set up as an autonomous body to combat emergency situations during disasters. It has proven to be highly effective as the state is no longer dependent on central government and can act quickly.
  • Technology – Millions of SMS messages were sent out by Location Based Alert System (LBAS) and Group Based Alert System (GBAS) to warn people. The “SATARK” (System for Assessing, Tracking and Alerting Disaster Risk Information based on Dynamic Risk Knowledge) of Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA) has won the IT Excellence Award, 2019 for its innovative conception by using information technology in the field of disaster management.
  • Preparedness – Odisha has recently implemented its ambitious Early Warning Dissemination System (EWDS). Using the mechanism, OSDMA can activate sirens across 122 towers operational across the state’s 480 km coastline, alerting the population at the press of a single button.
  • Empowering Community – Empowering the community has been a big game-changer. All vulnerable regions in Odisha have active Cyclone Management Centres, which are community-based organisations with the local Sarpanch as the president. Community is the first point of contact for rescue and preparedness. Odisha has managed to create a sense of community during such disasters that other states can also emulate. Cyclone evacuation is a social process, and people’s decision to evacuate depends on how they perceive the risk from the warning message. 
  • Future preparedness – Odisha has raised 20 units of Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF), comprised of highly trained personnel with multi-disaster tackling capabilities. They are trained in tackling floods, building collapses, cyclones, biological and nuclear disasters. Odisha plans to create a network of weather forecasting doppler radars across the state. Odisha’s focus in disaster management and risk reduction now includes a broader range of potential hazards, including the impacts of climate change.

At the same time, the Government of Odisha certainly needs to think about investing in creating safer housing especially in the coastal regions, and in creating electrical systems that are underground. This will not only help minimize the need for evacuation, but also save on the systematic investments that are made when household assets are lost during a disaster.


Disaster is dynamic, and with the climate change situation, the intensity and frequency of disasters is changing. In the future, such extreme events are predicted to hit coastal areas with more intensity due to climate change, and this necessitates that governments address socio-economic problems along with cyclone adaptation programmes to make disaster management more effective.

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