Cyclone-Caused Homelessness The Next Epidemic In India?

Consistent cyclones have been a massive factor contributing to displacement and homelessness in the country

With Cyclone Jawad, the east coast of India suffers the wrath of yet another cyclone in the year 2021, disrupting people’s lives in thousands. 

For some, it is a matter of minor inconvenience, causing a temporary hiatus in their daily lives. However, there is a bulk of the rural population and those who live in areas that get hit by the eye of these cyclones. For them, it is a matter of losing their very lives and not just their livelihood. They don’t get to decide their place of stay. It is these cyclones that make that decision for them. Such is the extent of homelessness and displacement on the east coast due to such consistent cyclones over the last two and a half decades. 

The coastline of states like Odisha, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu have been severely affected, leading to mass destruction of property and thousands becoming homeless. 

Cyclone Jawad still hasn’t had such extreme consequences yet. Although the remnants of the cyclone are yet to make landfall, the cyclone itself got weakened by the time it hit the coastline. 

The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) had prepared themselves for the aftermath to avoid as much displacement as possible. Commissioner Sanjay Kumar Singh alerted and instructed all officers to make a list of places that were exposed to the threats of the cyclone.

The question that remains here, however, is why the number of people left homeless as a consequence of Cyclone Jawad is nil? Is it because the government has finally trained itself efficiently enough to handle the aftermath? Or is it because the cyclone had weakened by the time it made landfall, hence leading to minor disruptions and losses for the people?

The chances of the latter being true is higher and here is why.

Super Cyclone Amphan vs Severe Cyclone Yaas: An Aftermath

Cyclones have affected the coastlines of India since the 1900s. Various cyclones including the likes of Aila, Laila, Taukteu, Amphan, and Yaas have left lakhs of people looking for a home.

While some got displaced, the others are still in search of a home that was promised to them by some government fund/scheme or the other. Supercyclone Amphan still has some 15 lakh people waiting at temporary shelters amid growing concerns over Covid spread, just in West Bengal alone. 

What Did The (Modi) Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana Do?

In 2015, Prime Minister Modi had launched the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana in an attempt to diminish homelessness, during his very first term. The aim was to make affordable accommodations available to those belonging to the lower socio-economic sections of the society, both in rural and urban India.  

So what did the Yojana talk about?

While the target was to build one crore houses in the first phase of the project, only 12% of it has been completed so far. The final goal was two crores by the year 2022, which seems like a distant dream at the present. 

Prime Minister Modi, after his re-election in 2019, had announced that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) would be heavily focusing on further eradicating homelessness in the country. While the census in 2011 had reported homelessness to be at 1.77 million, 2019 saw an increase in the number recording 1.8 million cases under the same category. 

There has been a major lag between the planning and the execution of policies for the homeless in India. In addition to that, consistent cyclones lashing the coasts of the country have only worsened the situation. Investments have to be thus made not just in the planning bit, but also for the proper execution of the said plans.