Karnataka prepares action plan to tackle heatwave
The Karnataka government had released a similar action plan last year and according to the disaster management department, the new action plan for heatwave is more comprehensive in its approach.
Aiming toward the effective management of the heatwave conditions in Karnataka, the state has come up with a region-specific action plan, an official privy to the development said on Sunday.
The state government had released a similar action plan last year and according to the disaster management department, the new action plan is more comprehensive in its approach.
Under the action plan, the government will make arrangements to identify vulnerable districts, people and animals and chart out ways to beat the heat as temperature is expected to soar in the upcoming months.
The information released by the state revenue department on Sunday read: “In order to prepare for effective management and mitigation of heat wave conditions in the State, Karnataka State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) in association with Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC) has brought out the State Heatwave Action plan for 2022 (sic).”
“The plan is in conformity with revised heat wave preparedness guidelines prepared by National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) which was issued in 2019,” it was stated.
“The plan has updated on region specific dos and dont’s and also sets out medium and long heat wave risk reduction measures based on the global best practices. The plan has been shared with all deputy commissioners and other stakeholders. The plan unambiguously sets out roles and responsibility of each department and other stakeholders,” states the revenue department document.
Karnataka, abundant with natural resources, is subject to several natural disasters like successive droughts, floods, fire, landslides,hailstorm, lightning and heat waves leading to loss of life and livelihoods.
According to the state disaster management department data, at least 15 out of the 31 districts in Karnataka, mostly the northern parts, are vulnerable to heatwaves.
The action plan comes at a time when human activities like construction, afforestation, road work and other ‘development’ to enhance life and livelihoods have added to the soaring temperatures.
Bengaluru, where temperature rarely crossed 30 degrees about 15-20 years ago, now records maximum temperature in excess of 38 degrees.
According to the action plan, “The booming service sector with a large number of vegetable vendors, auto repair mechanics, cab drivers, construction workers, roadside kiosk operators etc., is particularly vulnerable to the heatwave conditions.Though the richer sections of India can cope with higher temperatures by investing in air conditioners and coolers, the poorer population remains vulnerable to the higher temperatures.”
Bengaluru which has nearly 14,000-km road cover is home to nearly a quarter of Karnataka’s estimated 70 million population. The city has over 94 million vehicles on its streets and is home to hundreds of apartments and office complexes.
From the beginning of March, this year, there have been at least 1000 instances of fires reported from across Karnataka’s forests as summer and the heat add to the blaze, resulting in huge losses of the already eroding green cover in the southern state, HT had reported on March 15.
While the occurrence of fires in this season is considered “routine”, the number of blazes are adding to the threat of wiping out more forest land in a state which has pursued policies putting economic interests over ecological warnings in the past as well.
The number of fires has been determined by adding up the total number of fires as updated by the Forest Survey of India. According to the 2021 India State of Forests Report (ISFR), released in January, Karnataka has lost around 65 square kilometres of moderately dense forests in two years.
As per the report, forest cover accounts for 20.2% of the total land area in Karnataka which is lower than the national average of 21.7% and way less compared to the globally prescribed norms of around 33%.
Karnataka has a total forest cover of 38,770 sq km compared to 38,575 in the previous survey period. India’s forest cover is 7.13 lakh square km.
While the Karnataka government claims that forest cover in the state has grown, this claim has been questioned in the past by environmental activists and scientists.
According to the Forest Survey Report, very dense forest cover increased by 32 sq km to 4,533 square km while open forest area witnessed an increase from 1896 square km to 13,212 square km.