Intense heatwave threw normal life out of gear in the last fortnight in Odisha with the temperature crossing 46 degree Celsius at several places.
The state government has confirmed deaths of at least 19 persons due to heatwave since the beginning of summer in March. A majority of them have died in the last fortnight.
The unofficial death toll is said to be about 80.
Talking to Hindustan Times on Saturday, Odisha revenue and disaster management minister SN Patro said: “We have so far received allegations of deaths of 78 persons. Out of that, deaths of a total of 49 persons have been confirmed – 19 due to sun stroke and 30 others due to other reasons.”
Patro said Mayurbhanj district recorded highest number of four sun stroke deaths, followed by three in Balasore district.
He said the government had appealed the people through the media not to venture out of the houses during the peak period of 11 am to 5 pm. The government has also instructed the districts suspend labour intensive works like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Generation Scheme till the summer spell was over.
During the last fortnight, temperature of at least six centres including Sambalpur, Hirakud, Sundergarh, Jharsuguda, Sonepur and Titlagarh have touched 46 degree. Sambalpur clocked the season’s highest 46.7 on Friday.
Besides, temperature consistently hovered between 42 degree and 45 degree in major parts of Odisha including state capital Bhubaneswar. Even the minimum temperature rose to more than 28 degree making life of people miserable in many parts of the state.
Roads remain deserted between 11 am and 4 pm, with people preferring to stay indoors. But even inside the house, life is miserable because of frequent power cuts and load sheddings.
Officials in Grid Corporation of Odisha (Gridco) said the peak summer power demand of the state was 2900 megawatts (mw), but only about 2000 mw are being supplied at the moment. “Odisha is mainly dependent on hydropower projects but they are not producing power as the rivers are dry. Now while thermal power is the only option, load carrying capacity of the transformers has suffered due to frequent tripping,” one of the officials said.
The meteorological department said the intense heat spell would continue for few days more as there was no eminent sign of heavy rain in immediate future. “The intense heat wave is due to flow of hot wind from north-western parts of India. Local factors like cloud-free sky and absence of sea breeze have also contributed to the heatwave,” said SC Sahu, director, Bhubaneswar meteorological department.