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Heatwaves in India- UPSC Current Affairs
May 04, 2022
Here's our today's edition of the Current Affairs Dialog box wherein we will throw light on the ongoing Heatwaves in India. Navigate through the blog to know more about the topic and upgrade your IAS Preparation with useful insights.
Lack of Rainfall: Usually, periods of high temperature are punctuated by periodic episodes of rain, but this was largely absent during March and April.
Western Disturbances: The rain-bearing Western Disturbances, or tropical storms which bring rain from the Mediterranean over north India in March-April have been absent.
The rain-bearing western disturbances originate because of temperature gradients between the northernmost parts of the globe and the latitudes passing through West Asia.
Weaker gradients mean weaker rains.
La Nina: Cool temperatures in the Central Pacific, or La Nina, that normally helps rain in India too have failed to bolster rainfall.
Climate Change: Climate change caused by greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels is poised to make heat waves longer, more intense, and more frequent.
Dry & Hot Westerly Winds: The continuous dry and hot westerly winds blowing from Baluchistan, central Pakistan and the Thar Desert over northwest and central India have contributed to the rise in heatwaves.
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Impact of Heat Waves
The effects of the heatwave include heat-related illnesses, poor air quality, little rainfall, and reduced crop yields.
Additionally, Power demand has spiked, and coal inventories have dropped, leaving the country with its worst electricity shortage in more than six years.
In the northern regions of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, mountain snow has been rapidly melting besides raging forest fires.
The extreme temperatures and resultant atmospheric conditions adversely affect people living in heat-prone regions causing physiological stress, sometimes resulting in death.
Heat conditions can alter human behaviour, the transmission of diseases, health service delivery, air quality, and critical social infrastructures such as energy, transport, and water.
Strategy to Deal with Heatwaves
In 2016, the NDMA drew up the first national guidelines for heatwaves titled 'Preparation of Action Plan–Prevention and Management of Heat Wave'.
The National Guidelines on Heat Wave mentions the roles and responsibilities of the central and state government agencies, district administrations, local self-governments, NGOs, civil society organisations and other stakeholders in a matrix format.
Heat Action Plan
Since 2013, the India Meteorological Department (IMD), in collaboration with local health departments, has started issuing heat action plans in many parts of the country to forewarn about heatwaves as well as advise action to be taken during such occasions.
India Meteorological Department issues the following colour code impact based heat warning jointly with National Disaster Management Authority:
Image Source: India Meteorological Department
A Multipronged approach is needed to tackle heat waves which could include:
First, public awareness and community outreach to share information on the risks of heatwaves and dos and don'ts to prevent heat-related deaths and illnesses.
Second, an early warning system in place to alert citizens about the onset of the heatwave and set inter-agency coordination in motion.
Third, to build capacity among healthcare professionals, including paramedical staff and community health staff.
Cities must adopt a range of actions related to urban planning and governance, and governmental and community preparedness.