Opinion | Disaster alleviation needs its Ayushman
Better preparedness meant that Cyclone Fani wasn’t as catastrophic as the one that hit Odisha in 1999. Still, it’s time to broaden the idea to cover asset losses of the disaster-struck
The eastern coast of India has had to bear the brunt of nature’s fury yet again. Cyclone Fani hit Odisha on Friday, and though its menace as a storm was downgraded from “extremely severe" to “very severe" a few hours after it made landfall, it has left a trail of destruction that should make us revisit what we mean by “preparedness". That one million were evacuated in advance was creditable, to be sure. This kept the human casualty count lower than it might otherwise have been, a far cry from the 1999 super cyclone that battered the same state and left over 10,000 dead and several more homeless. The scale of that tragedy had been a shock, but it took the 2004 tsunami for the National Disaster and Management Authority (NDMA) to be set up. Created by an Act of Parliament in 2005, it was this body that swung into action last week to keep people safe. Now, however, it’s time to move to the next level and work out ways to minimize the loss of property and assets as well. While there are always calls for the government to make ex-gratia payments, the burden is best borne by insurance, a much- neglected tool that spreads the risk of exposure to calamities across large populations.