The Necessity of Strong Climate Resilient Infrastructure Policy

By Alokya Kanungo

No country be it developing or developed is spared from the brunt of disasters. During the month of May, Indian states including Odisha, Andra Pradesh, West Bengal and even neighbouring Bangladesh faced an extremely severe cyclonic storm equivalent of a high-end category 4 major hurricane with wind speeds of 215 km/h. As of 12 May 2019, 89 people are known to have been killed by Cyclone Fani in eastern India and Bangladesh with nearly US$1.81 billion in damages in the two countries.

We can give the credit to the meteorological department for its advancement in technology and the proper planning of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in preparedness and response phase. Due to the early warning, a majority of the population were evacuated to safe locations with plans for emergency restoration. But the destruction of many infrastructure and homes that came under the wrath of Cyclone Fani could not be minimised. While finances have been allocated by both the central and state governments for the rebuilding of infrastructure, can this money help the people to recover from their economic loss till the date the infrastructure and the homes are reconstructed? The answer is a clear no.

Among the 17 SDGs, 9 – Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, 11- Sustainable cities and communities and 13- Climate Action play an important role here. India, as one of the torch bearers of the SDGs should concentrate on climate proofing the infrastructures. Climate Resilient Infrastructure basically means it is a planned, designed, built and operated in a way that anticipates, prepares for, and adapts to the changing climatic condition. It can also withstand, respond to, and recover rapidly from disruptions caused by these climatic conditions.

Disaster Risk Reduction has been given stress among the Seven Global Targets of the Sendai Framework. A climate resilient infrastructure can cope up with the upcoming disaster which can contribute to minimising both the loss of life and property. India being a developing country should make smart investments on Climate Resilient Infrastructure rather than keeping aside money for the relief fund. As the country is in a growing phase, with emerging smart cities and numerous industrial plans we have the golden opportunity to both strengthen the infrastructure as well as to make it Climate Smart and try to control the rising temperature and carbon emission and fulfil the goals of Paris Agreement.

Alokya Kanungo is Research Scholar at the P.G Dept. Of Geography, Utkal University, Odisha, India. Her views are her own. She can be contacted on alokya2012@gmail.com