Odisha, which is pushing for inclusion of natural calamity as a criterion for according Special Category Status, says its economic growth is hindered largely by frequent occurrences of natural disasters.
Odisha Economic Survey 2018-19 that was tabled in the State Assembly on Friday says enormous losses to life, livelihoods, property and infrastructure caused due to disasters have put an impediment on the State’s growth trajectory.
“During the drought year of 1996-97, the economic growth of the state turned negative (-4.85%). Post the devastating Super Cyclone of 1999, Gross State Domestic Product growth rate was -1.72% in the succeeding year,” the survey says.
It observes similarly, post two consecutive cyclones and floods in 2013 and 2014, the growth rate fell to 1.8% in 2014-15, in comparison to a high growth rate of 9.3% in 2013-14.
According to the report, apart from losses to life and property, natural disasters also lead to crop failure, decline in surface and groundwater level, increasing unemployment and under-employment, migration and indebtedness.
“It is clear that natural calamities impair the growth of an economy, making it imperative to take measures to mitigate losses,” it says.
In Odisha’s case, the State’s vulnerability to natural disasters and consequent crop losses may also be a factor behind higher inflation caused due to supply side pressures.
“Nearly 35% of all the cyclonic storms that have crossed the eastern coast of India have affected Odisha and the associated storm surges have often inundated large tracts of coastal districts,” the economic survey report points out.
Rivers like Mahanadi and its tributaries have the potential to cause severe floods (out of a total geographical area of 15,571 lakh hectares, 1.40 lakh hectares are very flood prone).
“Recent trends have shown that the frequency, intensity and extent of droughts in the State are gradually on the rise leading to severe negative impacts on the agricultural sector in the State. In addition, the State is also affected by disasters like heat waves, pest attacks and forest fires,” it says.
There have been many instances where a particular area has been struck by a number of disasters simultaneously or repeatedly by one or the other type of disasters, the report further says.
The year 2017-18 also witnessed many natural disasters including floods in two phases, drought, pest attack and lightning accidents.