The mercury touched a scorching 47 degrees Celsius in some parts of the National Capital Region on Wednesday, prompting the India Meteorological Department to ask people to take precautions against the heat wave.
“We advise people to stay cautious against the heat wave in Delhi. We are still gathering the latest data,” a Met official told IANS.
According to private weather forecasters, the temperature in Palam and Noida soared to 47 degrees Celsius on Wednesday. The heat is mostly attributed to dry winds from the northwest.
“In Palam area of Delhi, the temperature reached 47 degrees Celsius. The condition in Gujarat is even worse as the temperature in Ahmedabad touched 50 degrees Celsius, later dropping to 49 degrees,” private weather forecaster Skymet’s director Mahesh Palawat told IANS.
A report by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) had said April this year was the hottest month globally on record. Closer home, Delhi has been witnessing a hotter than usual summer as well.
Data from the IMD said the average maximum temperature in April was 2.3 degrees above normal while the minimum was 1.7 degrees above normal. In meteorological terms, where an increase in even decimal points is viewed very seriously, this increase was significant.
Temperatures could nudge 45 to 47 degrees Celsius in large swathes of north and northwest India for the rest of the week, the weather office has forecast, before conditions ease slightly with the onset of monsoon down south.
The IMD issued “heat wave to severe heat wave” warnings for parts of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi, which are already baking in early-summer heat this year.
Already, two years of successive droughts have sapped rural demand and posed a challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plan to double farm income by 2022.
There is no official statistics of aggregated heat-related deaths, but searing temperatures coupled with a drought is said to have killed hundreds this year, and left not enough food to eat or water to drink in parts of an area that holds about 25% of India’s 1.2 billion people. As many as 309 heat-related deaths have been reported in Telangana alone since the beginning of this summer, the state’s disaster management department said on Wednesday.
Officials transported water in trains to towns and villages in the west earlier this month amid reports of children collapsing in the heat while fetching water, and of armed men guarding wells and ponds in Madhya Pradesh to stop farmers stealing water.
In Mumbai, cricket matches were moved out on the orders of the court so that no water was wasted in keeping the grounds green. To the north in Mahoba, Uttar Pradesh, newspaper photographs of cattle carcass on bone-dry riverbeds painted the picture of a looming famine.
In cities and towns, unrelenting heat has forced schools to shut and outdoor work such as construction to stop.
With inputs from IANS