AP government lacks action plan to face deadly heat waves

Highest number of heat-related deaths recorded in AP, number keeps rising every year.

Visakhapatnam: With temperatures already touching the 40ºC mark in March, the government needs to draft an action plan to prevent heat-related deaths during summer. In 2015, Andhra Pradesh bore the brunt of the scorching heat wave with 1,369 deaths, the highest in the country. Taking cognizance of the high fatalities, the state government, in December 2015, had constituted a committee to prepare a ‘Comprehensive Heat Wave Action Plan’. But there was no official information as to when the committee would submit its report or whether the safety measures would be in place from 2016.

Meanwhile, the Met department has warned that the maximum temperatures could touch 49ºC in many parts of the state this year. Mostly elders, the homeless and labourers are victims of the soaring temperatures during summer. Other than resorting to public advertisements asking people not to go out in the sun and to drink sufficient water, there has been no preventive measures on the part of the government, such as setting up shelters for the homeless, offering potable water at all important junctions or conducting medical camps.

Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, Andhra University emeritus professor from the department of Meteorology and Oceanography, Prof. O.S.R.U. Bhanu Kumar, said that in the absence of clouds, more heat was reaching the earth’s surface, manifesting in higher temperatures. “In the past decade, the mercury levels have been climbing. The concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide from 280 ppm in 1950 has now doubled to 403 pm.

This year, many places of Andhra Pradesh will register 50ºC. The triple whammy effect of increased carbon monoxide, methane and water vapour in the atmosphere has been making the earth warmer each passing day. As the cities are turning into concrete jungles, the denizens are the ultimate victims of the magnified effect of heat,” Prof. Kumar said.

Director of Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM-Pune), Mr M. Rajeevan, during his recent visit to Vizag, had said that 2016 would be the hottest year in India on record. “Greenhouse gases and emissions have a major influence on the weather as a system and are resulting in higher temperatures,” Mr Rajeevan had said. An official from the Revenue Disaster Management department meanwhile said that they would take extra measures to prevent heat wave deaths this year considering last year’s experience.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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