Skip to main content

Frequency of heat waves increasing; we must prepare for it: experts (downtoearth,)

Members of various national and regional meteorological and public health institutions congregated in Delhi on March 28 to attend National Workshop on Heat Wave Forecasts for State Level Preparedness. The workshop was organised under the leadership of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) to help states prepare for the health impacts of heat waves.

Heat waves or prolonged periods of extreme heat have become increasingly frequent the world over and India is no exception. Global warming is suspected to be the culprit. Recent years have seen several cities, especially in central India, suffer from heat waves in successive years. Exposure to heat is the third most deadly natural cause for mortality according to the National Crime Records Bureau, in spite of being notoriously difficult to pin down as a cause of death and severely underreported.

Moreover, heatwaves are not categorised as a natural disaster, making them ineligible to be covered under central governmental compensation schemes. Local governments have woken up to the perils of heat waves and the need for preparedness is slowly being recognised in several regions of the country.

Over the past five years, cities like Ahmedabad, Nagpur and Bhubaneshwar, among others, have prepared Heat Action Plans (HAP) to help citizens cope with the heat better. Public awareness drive and contingency measures put in place by local officials have curbed mortality in cities like Ahmedabad, Nagpur and Bhubaneshwar in summers. The workshop, being held until March 29, aims to regularise this practice among cities that face prolonged spells of heat during the summers by bringing together central and state government officials as well as members from public health institutions, meteorological institutions, and members of non-profits.

“Climate has several ambiguities but in forecasts across models, the one thing that has no ambiguity is the increase in occurrence of heat waves and also of extreme rain days. This is clear and we must prepare for it. We can already see several cities suffering from frequent heat waves,” said M Rajeevan, secretary of the Ministry of Earth Sciences. “The tricky part is that heat waves are caused by a culmination of local and global factors. IMD, since last year, has started providing 15-20 day temperature forecasts every five days for improved preparedness,” he added.

One challenge that was identified was the last-mile connectivity to the public to increase awareness and mobilise action. The other challenge highlighted during the first day of the workshop was the unavailability of reliable and systematic health data. Akhilesh Gupta, advisor to the Department of Science and Technology, said that a National Health Repository was being planned to solve the issue.

Somewhat controversially, India does not use the Heat Index while issuing warnings of heat waves. The Heat Index is an international standard being used to estimate the impacts of heat on the human body. The reason, explained SC Bhan, a senior scientist with the IMD, was that the international norms didn’t work in Indian conditions. “The heat index was tried out on an experimental basis last year but was not found to be suitable but there is a need to work on an Indian version of the Heat Index that integrates other local environmental and human factors,” he said.

In late February, the IMD issued an “above normal” seasonal forecast for the summer of 2017 with the north western to face the brunt of the heat. The second day of the workshop is to be used to produce a normative action plan for the coming summer.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

SC asks Centre to strike a balance on Rohingya issue (.hindu)

Supreme Court orally indicates that the government should not deport Rohingya “now” as the Centre prevails over it to not record any such views in its formal order, citing “international ramifications”.

The Supreme Court on Friday came close to ordering the government not to deport the Rohingya.

It finally settled on merely observing that a balance should be struck between humanitarian concern for the community and the country's national security and economic interests.

The court was hearing a bunch of petitions, one filed by persons within the Rohingya community, against a proposed move to deport over 40,000 Rohingya refugees. A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, began by orally indicating that the government should not deport Rohingya “now”, but the government prevailed on the court to not pass any formal order, citing “international ramifications”. With this, the status quo continues even though the court gave the community liberty to approach it in …

Cloud seeding

Demonstrating the function of the flare rack that carries silver iodide for cloud-seeding through an aircraft. 
Water is essential for life on the earth. Precipitation from the skies is the only source for it. India and the rest of Asia are dependent on the monsoons for rains. While the South West Monsoon is the main source for India as a whole, Tamil Nadu and coastal areas of South Andhra Pradesh get the benefit of the North East Monsoon, which is just a less dependable beat on the reversal of the South West Monsoon winds.

India’s criminal wastage: over 10 million works under MGNREGA incomplete or abandoned (hindu)

In the last three and half years, the rate of work completion under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has drastically declined, leading to wastage of public money and leaving villages more prone to drought. This could also be a reason for people moving out of the programme.

At a time when more than one-third of India’s districts are reeling under a drought-like situation due to deficit rainfall, here comes another bad news. The works started under the MGNREGA—close to 80 per cent related to water conservation, irrigation and land development—are increasingly not being completed or in practice, abandoned.

Going by the data (as on October 12) in the Ministry of Rural Development’s website, which tracks progress of MGNREGA through a comprehensive MIS, 10.4 million works have not been completed since April 2014. In the last three and half years, 39.7 million works were started under the programme. Going by the stipulation under the programme, close to 7…