If natural disasters like cyclone, earthquake and flood strike the twin cities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack anytime now, it would not just paralyse the two growing urban centres, the economic losses could be about one third of the State’s Budget.
A report of World Bank titled “A Local Resilience Action Plans for Bhubaneswar and Cuttack cities” has estimated that the total amount of loss to properties and wages due to cyclone, earthquake and flood would be over a little more than one third of the State’s annual Budget. The report done in partnership with IT services major RMSI has pegged the total loss to properties and wages at a little over Rs 28000 crore if the natural disasters were to strike the two cities –20 kms apart – at the same time. In 2015-16, Odisha government presented a Budget of Rs 84,487.77 crore.
Though Odisha is not among the top 10 urbanised States with about 17% of its population residing in urban areas, the report said the high urban growth rate of 26.8 per cent during the last decade (2001-2011) has made it essential for the government to reduce the cities’ vulnerability to disaster.
The report was submitted to the government late last month and due for discussion by state housing and urban development department and World Bank officials this week.
The report said about 61% of Bhubaneswar is under extreme to moderate cyclone risk while the same for Cuttack was 20 per cent. While 59% of Bhubaneswar is vulnerable to extreme to moderate urban flood risk, in Cuttack more than 50% of the city were exposed to extreme flood risk. Flood risk in both the cities was basically due to urban flooding, which is due to poor drainage facilities including narrow channel exits, encroachment of flood plain areas, and choking of drains due to dumping of solid waste. Both the cities have a combined population of about 14.5 lakhs as per 2011 census.
Located in Seismic Zone-III, almost 50% of Bhubaneswar is under extreme to moderate earthquake risk while 20% of the city comes under the extreme to high earthquake susceptibility zone. Cuttack which is also situated in Seismic Zone III like Bhubaneswar, however has 14% of the city under the extreme to high earthquake risk category.
But in terms of loss to properties due to earthquake and cyclone, Cuttack fared worse due to old structures. The report estimated that probable maximum loss to buildings in Bhubaneswar due to earthquake would be Rs 10000 crore with residential buildings alone accounting Rs 6009 crore. Cuttack which also sits on Seismic Zone 3 like Bhubaneshwar however would fare worse in case of earthquake due to old building structures. Though about 14% of Cuttack comes under the extreme to high earthquake risk category, the probable maximum loss due to the earthquake would be Rs 18000 crore with residential buildings alone accounting for Rs 15000 crore.
A similar report prepared by UNDP earlier had estimated that in the event of an earthquake, around 55,000 people in the city could be affected while the number of casualties could be around 2,000. In terms of wage loss, the working class in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack may suffer wage loss of Rs 50 crore for anything between a 4-day long cyclone or 10-day-long flood.
Using several climate change models the report also sounded warning over another climatic threat – rising temperature. Projecting a rise of at least 1.5 degree celsius in maximum (daytime) temperature over most parts of the State and 2 degree Celsius rise in night-time minimum temperature in the northern part of the State, the report said the rise in night-time minimum temperature could exceed 3.5°C in the northern part of the State by the end of this century.