Scorching Heat

Written By: / Articles / Saturday, 30 April 2022 17:07

Millions of Indians are experiencing a brutal heatwave that is throwing lives and livelihoods out of gear - and there is no relief in sight.
Severe heat conditions have been consistently reported over large parts of India since the beginning of the summer season in March this year. Maximum temperatures in west Rajasthan and Vidarbha in Maharashtra have remained between 40 degrees and 45 degrees Celsius throughout the last two months. Although March marks the seasonal transition from winter to summer, this year the month saw two spells of heatwaves.
And technically, summer season has not even started. There have been at least 26 heatwave days since the beginning of March, and as many as four spells of heatwaves in a little over a month and a half. The last of these heatwaves remains ongoing.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) declares a heatwave for a region when the maximum temperature reaches at least 40 degrees Celsius in the plains, at least 37 degrees Celsius along the coast, and at least 30 degrees Celsius in hilly regions. Alternatively, a heatwave is declared when the maximum temperature rises by between 4.5 degrees Celsius and 6.4 degrees Celsius above normal. A severe heatwave is declared when the maximum temperature departs from normal is more than 6.4 degrees Celsius. A third condition for a heatwave arises when an area records a maximum temperature of more than 45 degrees Celsius and up to 47 degrees Celsius on any given day.
Summers have always been gruelling in many parts of India - especially in the northern and central regions. Even before air-conditioners and water coolers started selling in the millions, people had devised their own ways of coping with the heat - from keeping water cool in earthen jugs to rubbing raw mangoes on their bodies to ward off heat strokes.
But many experts say India is now recording more intense, frequent heatwaves that are also longer in duration.
The effects are visible. Farmers say the unexpected temperature spikes have affected their wheat harvest, a development that could potentially have global consequences given supply disruptions due to the Ukraine war. The heat has also triggered an increase in power demand, leading to outages in many states and fears of a coal shortage. Prime Minister Modi also flagged the increased risk of fires due to rising temperatures.
Apart from climate change, factors such as increasing population and the resultant strain on resources are adding fuel to the fire. This, in turn, leads to factors that worsen the situation, such as deforestation and increasing use of transport. And the cost of such extreme weather events is disproportionately borne by the poor.
Since 2015, both the central  and state governments have issued a number of measures to mitigate the effects of heatwaves, such as banning working outside during the hottest hours and issuing timely advisories. But these can only be completely effective if accompanied by big-picture changes such as an overhaul of environmental protection laws and greening cities.

About the Author

Vijay Garg

Vijay Garg

Vijay Garg is a regular contributor of Imphal Times, mostly related with Education. Vijay is a resident of Street Kour Chand MHR Malout-152107 Distt Sri Muktsar sahib Punjab. Vijay Garg, Ex.PES-1 is a retired Principal from Government Girls Sen Sec school Mandi Harji Ram Malout -152106 Punjab. He is also the author of Quantitative Aptitude, NTSE , NMMS, Mathematics of XII, ICSE numerical physics and chemistry many more books.

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