NEW DELHI, January 14, 2011 ─ More than one million people living in the coastal areas of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh are set to benefit from a program financed by the World Bank to provide $255 million to support the first phase of the Government of India’s national program to mitigate the impact of cyclones.
World Bank Group President, Robert B. Zoellick, joined India’s Finance Minister, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, and Mr. M. Shashidhar Reddy, Vice Chairman, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), to witness the signing of the $255 million agreement for phase one of the National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (I) (NCRMP-I), to be implemented by the NDMA.
“This project assumes significance because close to 500 million people, or half of the country’s total population, live in the 13 cyclone-prone States and Union Territories. This includes nine states: Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal; two Union Territories: Daman & Diu and Pondicherry; and two island groups: Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar Islands. These are coastal states that contribute significantly to the country’s GDP and economic growth. Hence, the negative impact of recurrent cyclones is huge and diverts scarce resources from planned development activities into relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction,” said Mr. Mukherjee.
“The project marks the first disaster risk mitigation initiative to be implemented in India. It highlights the strides India is making in moving from a reactive to an anticipatory approach to disaster and risk management,” said Zoellick.
“We expect this project will pave the way for a long term partnership with India which will ultimately benefit millions of people, now vulnerable to the risks of natural disasters in India. The World Bank can offer significant experience in translating national risk mitigation strategies into effective policies which can help reduce the risks and losses caused by these natural disasters,” he added.
It is the first Adaptable Program Loan (APL) taken by the country. The overall program is expected to include at least three phases. After the first phase in the states of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh, it is expected to be expanded to other States and Union Territories in the second and third stages. This phased in approach will help incorporate lessons learned as well as new ideas and advancements in technology in the management of risks.
The project aims to upgrade early warning and communications systems to reach vulnerable communities in coastal areas. It will also help boost the ability of local communities to respond to disasters, improve access to emergency shelters in high risk areas and strengthen disaster risk management capability at the central, state and local levels.
With a view to strengthen the existing early warning system in all coastal districts, and to disseminate early warnings down to the community level in a timely and effective manner, an early warning system will be installed in about 1,740 villages - 760 in Andhra Pradesh and 980 in Orissa - within five kilometers of the coastline. The warnings customized by the state/district emergency centers will be broadcast through public address systems in the coastal villages using CDMA/GSM based Remote Public Alert and Communications Systems (R-PACS). The remotely triggered public address and alarm system will eliminate the need for 24/7 physical monitoring at the village level.
India is highly vulnerable to natural hazards, particularly earthquakes, floods, droughts, cyclones and landslides. Studies indicate that natural disaster losses equate up to 2 percent of India’s GDP and up to 12 percent of federal government revenues. About 5,700 kilometers of India’s coastline is exposed to severe cyclones and approximately 40% of India’s population lives within 100 km of the coastline. Analyzed data for the period 1980-2000 indicates that on an average, annually, 370 million people are exposed to cyclones in India.
India’s response to two of the biggest disasters in this current decade, the Gujarat earthquake and the Asian tsunami, has been seen as efficient and effective. Through this period, India also enacted the Disaster Management Act in 2005 and established the National and State Disaster Management Authorities.
The investment proposals in Orissa include the following:
- Construction of about 155 multipurpose cyclone shelters for about 169,000 people across 286 villages;
- Strengthening/upgrading of 263 kilometers of access roads that will serve 191 cyclone shelters;
- Rehabilitation and strengthening of 23 saline embankments, with a total length of about 160 km in 6 coastal districts benefiting 221,000 people.
The investment proposals in Andhra Pradesh include the following:
- Construction of about 148 multipurpose cyclone shelters to serve about 95,000 population;
- Construction/strengthening of almost 800 kilometers of all-weather roads;
- Construction of 22 new bridges at critical crossings, benefiting about 500,000 population;
- Restoration/strengthening of two tidal banks of about 35km.
The agreement was signed by Mr Venu Rajamony, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, on behalf of Government of India, and Mr Roberto Zagha, World Bank Country Director, India.
The credit is provided by the World Bank’s fund for the poorest, the International Development Association (IDA), and has 35 years to maturity and a 10-year grace period.