Nature’s Revenge

Anatomy of ‘Hud Hud’

P V Ramana

The City of Visakhapatnam which is more than 610 square kilometers is a Beautiful city with a long Sea Shore and vast stretch of Greenery along East coast of India. Now it looks like a war torn city after the Hud Hud Cyclone attack. The city also called as city of Destiny, Economic and Tourism Capital of new Andhra Pradesh and mentioned as a Future Smart City from America during prrme minister's visit, now became a city of despair.

From the midnight of 11th October, the winds started with a speed of 80 kmph and increased to 220 kmph. 70% of greenery has been lost. Many Trees were broken, twisted, fell and blocked all the roads. Windows, Glasses, Hoardings were blasted like small toys. Thousands of Electric Poles were destroyed. On Sunday the Entire city population without any exception were in the grip of fear which was never experienced in their life.

It is estimated that up to 10 lakh trees have been destroyed. In the 3 districts of North coastal Andhra (Visakha-patnam, Vizianagaram, Srika-kulam) 74 electrical towers were collapsed, which is for the first time in the history of the Country as per the State Energy Secretary Mr Ajay Jain. 5,100 fishing vessels were damaged. 20,000 Electric Poles in Visakhapatnam city alone were damaged. Major Industries like port trust, Steel Plant, Shipyard, BHPV, Coromandal and 1,300 small scale industries were all severely affected. In Fishing Harbor 250 boats were partially damaged and 60 engine boats sunk into the Sea. 36 people were dead in Visakhapatnam, 12 in Vizianagaram, 8 in Srikakulam and 32 Patients in King George Hospital (Visakhapatnam) died due to non-availability of medical care as there was no Electricity and water.

The Slum dwellers, hawkers and daily labor in the city were worst hit by the Cyclone. There are 741 slums in Visakhapatnam and 8 lakh people living in these slums. The asbestos sheets and thatched roofs of almost all the houses of the slums were swept away by the winds. All are living in those roofless houses without any basic amenities. 80,000 hawkers are living on small businesses on wheel carts selling vegetables, fruits and other items like caps, bangles, eye glasses etc., are on the roads as their entire livelihood was destroyed. 15,000 construction workers living in slums are also without food and work.

People are being told that this is a natural Disaster by State and Center Leaders alike. But in reality it is a nature's slap on the present day Development Ideology. The Social Scientists, Environmentalists, Intellectuals are repeatedly telling that the large scale Urbanization, Expansion of Industries, Dangerous Pollution are destroying the city's Ecological balance and increasing the temperatures inviting danger. In the month of June 2014, there were 204 deaths in the District due to severe heat waves. From 12th to 17th June during 6 days time 162 deaths occurred, which is a clear sign of increased temperatures.

Many cyclones passed over the Visakhapatnam shore and entered the neighboring places till now. Because of increased temperatures, the Hud Hud directly made landfall on the city as analyzed by many Environmentalists. "Hud Hud Cyclone teaches us a lesson that we have to respect the nature" said former IAS officer EAS Sarma. Long back also there were casuarinas trees, Mangroves along the sea shore. Many times they saved the city and its people. But in the name of Development the authorities have destroyed these life saving plants and facing the fury of nature now.

Coastal areas like Rambilli in Visakhapatnam district, Kovvada in Srikakulam district were also severely hit by the Cyclone. Here the fishing boats, fishermen houses have been destroyed, where the Government is going to build a modern futuristic Naval base in Rambilli and a Nuclear powerplant at Kovvada. Mr E A S Sarma says that the sea water flooding can create another Fukushima on the Coast.

As per IPCC report 130 towns and 84 coastal Districts are in the danger of multiple risks due to Global warming. The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) released a working paper on October 9th, before the Hud Hud Cyclone. They studied the cities Visakha-patnam and Goa for a year and gave a clear danger signal, telling that Visakhapatnam city is in a dangerous position, as the sea levels are rapidly increasing and the sea erosion is becoming worse day by day and of sea shore continuing and many important places are in low level areas.

All Cyclones till date made land fall in the plains and semi-urban areas along the Indian coast. But for the first time in the recorded history of Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), cyclone Hud Hud ran over a green city like Visakhapatnam which was never hit by Cyclones.

Even though the Cyclone destroyed so much, it also brought out great changes in human behavior even for a few days only. For few days, modern technalogy's limitations were glaringly self evident after the destruction. There were no TV Programmes, Cinemas, Cell phones, Internet, Twitter, Face book. Discarded radios were only useful for news, oil lamps, candles were used for lights. Individualization broken even for a short time and families with children lively interacted with each other. Uptight people became humble and spoke with neighbors. 'I' became 'We' in clearing the debris of the city and ordinary people worked amazingly and proved that combined effort creates wonders and human relations revived.

The irony is that the culprits who are responsible for this kind of tragedy are pouring crores of rupees as donations to the Chief Minister's relief fund.

Even after the devastations like Uttarakhand destruction, Kashmir floods, Malin land-slide, and now the Cyclone of Visakhapatnam the Chief minister of AP and Prime minister of India instead of rethinking they are going with their development pattern, declaring that the smart cities, bullet trains, Coastal Corridors, 4 and 6 lane roads will be built at any cost. It is evident that more dangers are waiting to happen in future with this type of bulldozer development.

Vol. 47, No. 21, Nov 30 - Dec 6, 2014