SAMUDRA Report

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Issue No:78
  • :January
  • :2018

Samudra Report No.78, January 2018

COMMENT

On Land, at Sea, Lives Matter

Cyclone Ockhi, which caused large-scale destruction in southern India, should open the eyes of officialdom to both the landward and seaward dimensions of cyclones

As natural disasters go, Cyclone Ockhi which, between 30 November and 2 December 2017, took the lives of hundreds of fishers, injured many others and destroyed numerous fishing vessels at sea, stands out for the disproportionate damage it caused at sea than on land. The dead included not only fishers from the south Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala who were on short- and long-haul fishing trips, but also undocumented migrant fishers from faraway places. This, arguably, is the first-ever cyclone that took away lives at sea on the southwest coast of India, but spared those on land. There are heart-rending stories of survivors who battled the sea for several days before they were rescued (see reports elsewhere in this issue of SAMUDRA Report).

Several explanations have been presented for this tragedy on the waves—from the rapid genesis and intensification of the cyclone, which cut short the time available for response, to the rarity of such storms on the southern Arabian Sea coast. But even under these circumstances, many lives, especially of those who ventured out on 29...

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