Cyclones Yaas and Tauktae have caused enormous damage on Indian coasts.
They won’t be the last cyclones to maraud us as climate change intensifies. We have been dealt an unfair hand, but we must face it.
Our model till date has prevented loss of life and help impacted persons to rebuild. India cannot afford this anymore, because we will be hit by more frequent, more severe cyclones in the coming years. Know this: 170 million, a seventh of our population, lives along coasts. If they lose their assets, savings and livelihoods repeatedly, they will plunge into intense poverty, if they are not already there.
Nature-based solutions can help mitigate this dire scenario. But that needs a fundamental shift in how we view nature. The popular understanding of it is as either a hindrance or a basket of goodies to extract, sets it up as a system to be vanquished and devoured. In reality, nature is inherently a basket of goodies via its eco-system services and its very presence.
There’s much investment required into researching specific solutions for each of India’s 70 coastal districts. Each cradles a range of biodiversity, culture and is differently vulnerable.
Yet, each should plan along accepted ideas include preserving, improving or re-wilding mangroves, swamps, lagoons and sandy dunes and beaches. This can’t co-exist with infrastructure development that needs them out of the way.
Nature needs precedence. India may not have contributed to the climate crisis but we must drastically re-think our growth path to adapt to it.
(The writer is founder and director of Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group)