Role of cyclones and other factors in the decline of the ports of northern Orissa - Current Science

CyclonesThis article published in Current Science attempts to study the impact of causative factors such as cyclones, storm surges and siltation, besides anthropogenic factors on the decline of the ports of northern Orissa between Paradip and Sagar.

The article argues that cyclones and storm surges are the main factors responsible for the decline of ports, particularly along the northern Orissa coast where large and frequent surges occur due to bathymetric features and orientation of the coastline. The cyclones and storms have occurred regularly since time immemorial. Ancient ports and port structures might have been destroyed by cyclones, but no documents are available prior to the 19th century to indicate this.

Numerous cyclones and floods are known to affect the Orissa coast as compared to other states of India.  Records show that the entire eastern coast of India has been experiencing cyclones of varying intensity on a regular basis. The storm surges might have had a great impact on the port structures which could not withstand their force. It appears that the role of sea level rise is minimal in comparison with cyclones.

The archival and historical documents and writings of contemporary scholars provide information on maritime trade, import and export of cargo and indicate the role of both natural and manmade factors in the rise and decline of the ports of northern Orissa. The analysis of past data on cyclones shows that the large number of cyclones could have caused their decline and destruction. This could be one of the important causative factor for the dwindling of maritime activities in Orissa, concludes the article.

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