Title

× Close
rain maker

Cyclone Nada brings rainfall to Tamil Nadu, reviving hopes for good crop and memories of flood

National Disaster Response Force teams have been deployed as precaution against cyclonic damage.

Residents of Tamil Nadu are watching Cyclone Nada as it makes its way towards the state’s coastline with a mixture of relief and apprehension.

After a disappointing monsoon, steady rain doused parts of Tamil Nadu, including Chennai, as the cyclone made its way across the Bay of Bengal on Thursday. Overcast skies, cool breeze and the showers have lifted the hopes of farmers, who bore the brunt of the inadequate rainfall in November. The cyclone is expected to land between Vedaranniyam, a town on the state’s coast, and the union territory of Puducherry early on Friday, according to the Indian Meteorological Department.

However, the deluge in Chennai and other parts of the state in December last year, which killed nearly 300, is still fresh in the minds of residents, who are hoping that the state administration and municipal body will be better prepared this year to handle heavy rainfall.

By Thursday afternoon, reports said the cyclone had weakened to a “deep depression”, though private forecaster Skymet Weather has said that Tamil Nadu’s capital Chennai and its surrounding areas will continue to experience heavy showers as the cyclonic system moves northwest.

Preparing for the worst

Tamil Nadu receives the bulk of its rainfall during the retreating North East monsoon, which arrived in the state after a week’s delay on October 31. However, the monsoon failed to bring much-needed respite to the state, recording an over 80% deficit and the state is facing a water crisis. The neighbouring Union territory of Puducherry has not had better luck – seeing an 84% deficit in rainfall.

While the showers could help reverse the declining lake levels in the state, private weather forecaster AccuWeather has predicted the possibility of heavy flooding across a large parts of southern India through the weekend. But S Balachandran, Director of Area Cyclone Warning Centre in Chennai, told The Hindu, “While there will be fairly widespread rains till Friday in most parts of coastal Tamil Nadu, there may not be torrential downpour like last year.”

Tamil Nadu’s School Education Department had announced holidays for schools in six districts across the state on Thursday and Friday. Schools are also shut in Puducherry for these two days. Fishermen have been warned not to venture out into the sea, as the water is expected to be rough along and off the coast.

Tamil Nadu authorities told the media that necessary precautionary measures have been taken. According to reports, teams from the National Disaster Response Force have been deployed in the coastal districts as a precautionary measure, while the Western Naval Command said it is on alert.

Disaster prevention measures have also been stepped up near the coastal village of Kille in Cuddalore district, where the cyclone is expected to land. “The revenue department has been giving us regular updates about the weather,” said Neethi Mani, one of the leaders of the fisherfolk in Kille.

But Mani said that although the lives of the fisherfolk were not in danger, the same cannot be said about their livelihoods. The fishermen fear that strong winds will tear apart their boats and sweep away their fishing nets.

“This region is hit by a cyclone almost once in every year,” said Neethi Mani. “Cyclone Thane destroyed all the fishing equipment, for which we fisherfolk invest over Rs 5 lakh totally. These cyclones take away our year-long savings in one day.” Cyclone Thane hit the coast of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry on December 31 last year, killing at least 33.

Will it be enough?

South Indian farmers are heavily dependent on the North East monsoon for water for irrigation. According to the Met department, Tamil Nadu receives 48% of its annual rainfall in this period, while Kerala and Karnataka receive about 20%.

The farmers thus have welcomed the rainfall with relief.

However, some are sceptical about whether this will make up for the shortfall in November. “It did not rain at all in November, said K Shanmugan, a farmer from Chinnaippet village of Kanchipuram district. “Only yesterday, it began to drizzle a little. If it continues to rain this way, our lakes will never fill up.”

Credit: India Meteorological Department
Credit: India Meteorological Department

Shanmugam said that the farmers of this region usually irrigate their crops through the excess water discharged from overflowing lakes. This is sent to the villages through a series of channels. “Those who can afford pump sets sowed their crop earlier this season,” said Shanmugam. “Many others were waiting for signs of rain to even begin sowing.”

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BULLETIN BY 

Making transportation more sustainable even with fuel-based automobiles

These innovations can reduce the pollution caused by vehicles.

According to the WHO’s Ambient Air Pollution Database released in 2016, ten of the twenty most polluted cities in the world are in India, with Gwalior and Ahmedabad occupying the second and third positions. Pollution levels are usually expressed in the levels of particulate matter (PM) in the air. This refers to microscopic matter that is a mixture of smoke, metals, chemicals and dust suspended in the atmosphere that can affect human health. Particulate matter is easily inhaled, and can cause allergies and diseases such as asthma, lung cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Indian cities have some of the highest levels of PM10 (particles smaller than 10 micrometres in diameter) and PM2.5 particles (particles smaller than 2.5 micrometres in diameter). The finer the particulate matter, the deeper into your lungs it can penetrate causing more adverse effects. According to WHO, the safe limits for PM2.5 is 10 micrograms per cubic meter.

Emissions resulting from transportation is regarded as one of the major contributors to pollution levels, especially particulate matter. A study conducted by the Centre for Ecological Sciences of the Indian Institute of Science estimated that the transport sector constitutes 32% of Delhi’s emissions. It makes up 43% of Chennai’s emissions, and around 17% of Mumbai’s emissions.

Controlling emissions is a major task for cities and auto companies. The Indian government, to this end, has set emission standards for automobiles called the Bharat Stage emission standard, which mirrors European standards. This emission standard was first instituted in 1991 and has been regularly updated to follow European developments with a time lag of about 5 years. Bharat Stage IV emission norms have been the standard in 2010 in 13 major cities. To tackle air pollution that has intensified since then, the Indian government announced that Bharat Stage V norms would be skipped completely, and Stage VI norms would be adopted directly in 2020.

But sustainability in transport requires not only finding techniques to reduce the emissions from public and private transport but also developing components that are environment friendly. Car and auto component manufacturers have begun optimising products to be gentler on the environment and require lesser resources to manufacture, operate and maintain.

There are two important aspects of reducing emissions. The first is designing vehicles to consume less fuel. The second is making the emissions cleaner by reducing the toxic elements.

In auto exteriors, the focus is on developing light-weight but strong composite materials to replace metal. A McKinsey study estimates that plastic and carbon fibre can reduce weight by about 20% and 50% respectively. A lighter body reduces the engine effort and results in better fuel economy. Additionally, fuel efficiency can be increased by reducing the need for air conditioning which puts additional load on the vehicle engine thereby increasing fuel consumption. Automotive coatings (paints) and sheets provide better insulation, keep the vehicle cool and reduce the use of air conditioning.

Most emissions are the result of inefficient engines. Perhaps the most significant innovations in making automobiles and mass transport systems more eco-friendly are being done in the engine. Innovations include products like fuel additives, which improve engine performance, resist corrosion and reduce fuel consumption while offering a great driving experience, and catalytic converters that reduce toxic emissions by converting them to less harmful output such as carbon dioxide, Nitrogen and water. Some of these catalytic converters are now capable of eliminating over 90 percent of hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides.

All of these are significant measures to bring the negative impacts of vehicular pollution under control. With over 2 million vehicles being produced in India in 2015 alone and the moving to BS VI emission standards, constant innovation is imperative.

Beyond this, in commercial as well as passenger vehicles, companies are innovating with components and processes to enable higher resource efficiency. Long-lasting paint coatings, made of eco-friendly materials that need to be refreshed less often are being developed. Companies are also innovating with an integrated coating process that enables carmakers to cut out an entire step of coating without compromising the colour result or the properties of the coating, saving time, materials and energy. Efforts are being made to make the interiors more sustainable. Parts like the instrument panel, dashboard, door side panels, seats, and locks can all be created with material like polyurethane plastic that is not only comfortable, durable and safe but also easily recyclable. Manufacturers are increasingly adopting polyurethane plastic like BASF’s Elastollan® for these very reasons.

From pioneering the development of catalytic converters in 1975 to innovating with integrated process technology for coatings, BASF has always been at the forefront of innovation when it comes to making transport solutions more sustainable. The company has already developed the technology to handle the move of emissions standards from BS IV to BS VI.

For the future, given the expected rise in the adoption of electric cars—an estimated 5~8 percent of car production is expected to be pure electric or plug-in electric vehicles by 2020—BASF is also developing materials that enable electric car batteries to last longer and achieve higher energy density, making electronic mobility more feasible. To learn more about how BASF is making transport more sustainable, see here.

Watch the video to see how automotive designers experimented with cutting edge materials from BASF to create an innovative concept car.

Play

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of BASF and not by the Scroll editorial team.

× Close