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Indian cities sizzle at 48 deg C, respite likely after 3 days

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra
Last updated on: May 28, 2024 01:38 IST
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Temperatures in 17 locations breached 48 degrees Celsius on Monday, with the relentless heat affecting health and livelihoods across large parts of northwestern and central India.

IMAGE: College girls cover their faces to protect them from the scorching heat on a hot summer afternoon, in Rohtak on Monday, May 27. 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo

However, some relief from the scorching heat is expected after three days due to a western disturbance and moisture incursion from the Arabian Sea, India Meteorological Department (IMD) chief Mrutyunjay Mohapatra said.

"There could be thunderstorm activity in northwest India and rain in the western Himalayan region," he said.


The national capital stayed under the grip of searing heat as maximum temperatures in parts of New Delhi crossed 48 degrees Celsius. The city was on red alert on Monday and will remain so for the next three days, the weather office said.

The IMD has predicted a higher number of heatwave days in northwest India and adjoining parts of the central region in June.

"Normally, northwest India and the adjoining areas record two to three heatwave days in June. This time, we expect four to six days of heatwave in this region," Mohapatra said at a press conference.

Except for a few parts of southern peninsular India, normal to above-normal maximum temperatures are expected across the country in June, he added.

People endured the deadly heat on Monday, with temperatures crossing 48 degrees Celsius in 17 places.

At 49.4 degrees Celsius, Rajasthan's Phalodi was the warmest place in the country. At least eight more locations in the desert state recorded temperatures above 48 degrees Celsius.

The mercury surged to 48.4 degrees in Haryana's Sirsa, 48.8 degrees in Delhi's Mungeshpur, 48.4 degrees in Punjab's Bathinda, 48.1 degrees in Uttar Pradesh's Jhansi, and 48.7 degrees in Madhya Pradesh's Niwari.

Even the hills of Himachal Pradesh, a preferred destination to escape the punishing heat in the plains, experienced sizzling temperatures. Una sizzled at 44 degrees Celsius, while Mandi recorded a high of 39.4 degrees.

With the heat testing the disaster preparedness of states, Delhi's Health Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj announced that government-run hospitals would reserve two beds each for heatstroke patients.

The scorching heat prompted the Haryana government to advance summer vacations in state-run and private schools to Tuesday.

The deadly heatwave is testing power grids and leading to water shortages in parts of the country.

According to the Central Water Commission, water storage in 150 major reservoirs in India dropped to just 24 per cent of their live storage last week, exacerbating water shortages in many states and significantly affecting hydropower generation.

The Maharashtra irrigation department said that the water stock in Jayakwadi dam in the drought-prone Marathwada region stood at a mere 5.19 per cent of its capacity on Monday after recording an evaporation loss of 1.15 MCM (million cubic metres) in a single day due to the heat.

The intense heat has already driven India's power demand to 239.96 gigawatts, the highest so far this season, with air conditioners and coolers in homes and offices running at full capacity.

Experts anticipate that power demand could rise even further and surpass the all-time high of 243.27 GW recorded in September 2023.

Severe heat waves have impacted a large number of people in parts of India for three consecutive years, affecting health, water availability, agriculture, power generation, and other sectors of the economy.

The heatwave in May has seen several places across the country, including Assam, Himachal Pradesh, and Arunachal Pradesh, recording their all-time high temperatures and Rajasthan reporting several heat-related deaths.

Parts of India saw record-breaking maximum temperatures in April as well, with Kerala reporting at least five deaths due to suspected heatstroke.

Similar heatwaves could occur once every 30 years, and these have already become about 45 times more likely due to climate change, according to 'World Weather Attribution', a group of leading climate scientists.

Experts say those working outdoors, the elderly, and children are at higher risk of heat exhaustion and heatstroke. According to the World Health Organisation, more than 166,000 people died as a result of heatwaves between 1998 and 2017.

India reported 3,812 deaths due to heatwaves between 2015 and 2022, with Andhra Pradesh alone logging 2,419 fatalities, the government informed Parliament in July last year.

In the absence of adequate cold-chain infrastructure, extreme heat can cause major damage to fresh produce. Studies show India faces food losses worth $13 billion a year, with only four per cent of fresh produce covered by cold chain facilities.

According to a World Bank report, India could account for 34 million of the projected 80 million global job losses from heat stress-associated productivity decline by 2030.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
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