2019 is turning out to be one of the hottest years for India. The proof can be seen with record temperatures in several states.
On February 6, 2019, the Minister of Earth Sciences, Dr Harsh Vardhan, gave answers in Lok Sabha to several questions regarding heat waves. In the detailed transcript of the answers, he noted, “The temperatures over India have showed a noticeable rise…The year 2018 was the sixth warmest year on record since nation-wide records commenced in 1901.” He also gave the statistics on the number of deaths due to heat waves since 2010, which totals to 6,167 deaths. If the reports are anything to go by then the situation is severe almost pan-India. Delhi, Mumbai, Kerala, and Karnataka have recorded the highest temperatures for the month of March.
On March 28, 2019, Accuweather.com issued a red-flag warning across India as it predicted the first heat wave of the year (which later turned out to be precise).
On April 1, 2019, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) issued a heat wave warning for the coming 5 days.
According to the latest press-release by IMD, 21 out of the 29 warmest years since 1901 have been from 1997 to 2018. The IMD Heat Wave Bulletin defines heatwave differently for different geographical locations, “Heat wave is considered if maximum temperature of a station reaches at least 40C or more for Plains, 37C or more for coastal stations and at least 30C or more for Hilly regions.”
Climate change and the subsequent increase in temperature, has been affecting the lives of people across India, especially those belonging to a lower socio-economic stratum. This six-part series by IndiaSpend documents the lives of people at several such places in India.
In another reply dated February 04 2019, Dr Harsh Vardhan laid out the details of the steps that have been taken to deal with the issue of heat waves. He noted, “The regional meteorological centres of IMD provide 7-day forecast of daily maximum temperatures for about 300 cities in India, expanding from 100 cities in 2016.”
A Heat Action Plan was developed in 2017 which lays out, “…comprehensive early warning system and preparedness plan for extreme heat events.” The main aims of the Heat Action Plan are:
- Building Public Awareness and Community Outreach
- Utilizing an Early Warning System and Inter-Agency Coordination
- Capacity Building Among Health Care Professional
- Reducing Heat Exposure and Promoting Adaptive Measures
Since 2017, 11 states have adopted or developed state-wide Heat Action Plan.
Also Read: Ongoing Global Heatwave Is Setting All-time Hottest Temperature Records All Over