DC Edit | Heatwave: Dire days ahead

There have been sufficient signs already to warn people of what may be in store

Extraordinary heat wave conditions are likely to prevail in the month of May after a scorching April produced temperatures that were the highest since 1900 in the northern and central parts of the country. A village in Uttar Pradesh recorded 47.4 degrees Celsius over the weekend signifying what the subcontinent will be facing in terms of summer heat in these times in which climate change is wreaking havoc with what were normally warm to hot days.

There have been sufficient signs already to warn people of what may be in store. Even coastal areas where the average temperatures have been below 40 C, the real feel temperatures are being recorded at a prohibitive 15 to 16 C above the mercury reading thanks to intense humidity levels that touch even 85 % in a day. The climate is getting to be such as to be generally unhealthy for all people and especially dangerous for the vulnerable like very young children, people with chronic health conditions, the old and the poor.

India and Brazil share the highest mortality rate from heat-related deaths. If it’s accepted that it is impossible to provide air-conditioning to all living spaces – some countries like Kuwait even toyed with ideas like domes being built above air-cooled cities – it would be incumbent on the people to lean on all their ingenuity in avoiding the open spaces in the hottest parts of the day and coping with the heat indoors, which is not pleasant either.

The helplessness of the state as an entity in even providing sufficient power to meet the rising demand thanks to mismanagement of the logistics of distributing coal from the mines to thermal power plants is reflected in the poor coal reserve position at the plants. Electricity supply is said to have fallen short by 1.88 billion units or 1.6% in the first 27 days of April.

Given the basic failure in managing such a crucial commodity in power generation, the fear is people will be increasingly left to their own resources to survive the scorching heat waves to come. It is of little comfort that at least people are being warned by IMD nowadays of the risk of stepping out in the heat and that message is reaching a vast number of people in the age of instant communications.

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