The mercury has begun to soar in Bhubaneswar. The temperature in the Orissa capital crossed 40 degree Celsius – 7 degrees above normal -- on Wednesday. There was no respite on Thursday either as the maximum temperature touched 38.5 degrees. Met office director SC Sahu said the daytime temperature was expected to cross 38 degrees on Friday as well.
Apart from changes in macro weather conditions, the temperature crossed 40 degrees on Wednesday because of a fire in the Barunei forests in Khurda district, 20 km from Bhubaneswar. The Met office director said, “There have been absolutely no rains in the state since October. Had the ground been wet, some of the heat would have been absorbed by it. There is also a northwesterly wind, which is adding to the hot conditions in clear sky conditions. The forest fire near Bhubaneswar was also partially responsible for the sudden increase in temperature.”
The state government has issued instructions, especially to educational institutions, to cope with the heat wave. UC Mohanty, joint secretary in the school and mass education department, wrote to school authorities on Thursday: “The government has decided to take… precautionary and preparatory measures in all educational institutions, including public schools and privately managed schools, to mitigate the possible heat wave during Summer-2009”.
The timings of all classes have been rescheduled from 6.30 am to 10.30 am in all schools. All examinations should be completed by April 2009 and the timings of the examinations will be between 6.30 am and 10.30 am, the directive stated.
Principals have been instructed to make provisions for drinking water in schools where tube-wells are not currently available. They should advise the students to come to the school with umbrellas and water bottles in summer. Physical training in the school from April 1 should be made optional for students till the heat wave subsides.
As for the forest fire, it has now been brought under control. G. Rajesh, divisional forest officer (DFO) of Khurda district said, “The extent of damage caused by the forest fire is still being ascertained. But it has destroyed the lower canopy. Technically, we call it a ground fire. Due to hot and windy conditions, the fire spread fast. It has been completely doused now.” The cause of the fire has not been established yet, the DFO added.
A severe heat wave in 1998 had claimed 2,048 lives in Orissa.