A woman walks with an umbrella as another wears a cap to protect themselves from heat, at Dadar in Mumbai.(Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)
A woman walks with an umbrella as another wears a cap to protect themselves from heat, at Dadar in Mumbai.(Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)

March is the new May: Northern and western India reel due to scorching summer

Officials warned no respite was in the offing, raising concerns about the high temperatures even in March and in hill stations such as Srinagar and Dehradun.
By Agencies | New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 30, 2017 05:50 PM IST

Vast swathes of northern and western India are reeling under near heat-wave conditions with experts expressing concerns over the sweltering temperatures that have shot past 40 degree Celsius in the first few weeks of summer.

Maximum temperatures hovered around five degree Celsius above normal in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra and even in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh. Large parts of Odisha, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are also witnessing daily temperatures of more than 40 degree Celsius. In Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, temperatures are forecast to touch 47 degree Celsius in the next few weeks.

“A large high pressure area over central and north west region is producing the extreme heat conditions. This is not conducive to cloud formation and it exposes the earth’s surface to unrelenting solar radiation,” said DS Pai, a scientist at the India Meteorological Department.

Scattered rain by the end of the week is expected to bring some relief to Delhi and neighbouring areas where temperatures have almost touched 40 degree Celsius. But in other places, officials warned no respite was in the offing, raising concerns about the high temperatures even in March and in hill stations such as Srinagar and Dehradun.

Akola in Maharashtra, recorded 44.1 degree Celsius, Barmer in Rajasthan recorded a high of 43.4 degrees Celsius while Narnaul in Haryana sizzled at 42 degrees Celsius, nine degrees above normal. Ludhiana in Punjab recorded seven degrees above normal 36.7 degrees.

The searing temperatures comes on the back of the hottest summer in a century last year that killed 550 people 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. Officials were forced to transport 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 to stop farmers from stealing water.

The high temperatures also renew fears a another drought that is likely to sap rural demand, gut agriculture and pose a challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plan to double farm income by 2022.

Junior minister for science and technology and earth sciences, YS Chowdary, told the Lok Sabha last week that “the frequency of severe heat waves had increased sharply in the recent years.”

It was a hot day in Delhi with the mercury settling six notches above normal at 38.2 degrees Celsius. Temperature in Dehradun as well as Srinagar was recorded much above normal for this part of the year.

IMD officials said they would verify the temperature readings at Bhira in Raigadh. “We realised that something is wrong as no other place nearby recorded so high a temperature,” S G Kamble, divisional In charge of Regional Meteorological Department, Colaba in Mumbai, said. Wardha, Nagpur and Chandrapur recorded 43 degree Celsius.

In Uttar Pradesh, heat-wave like conditions prevailed with the mercury crossing 40 degree Celsius in Varanasi, Allahabad, Hamirpur and Agra.

The Met office said Varanasi and Agra were the hottest place in the state recorded 41.4 degrees, followed by Hamirpur at 41.2 deg C. It predicted hot weather conditions in various parts of the state in the next 24 hours.

Heat wave conditions continued in Gujarat and Saurashtra-Kutch regions. The highest temperature of 42.9 degree Celsius was recorded at Amreli, followed by 42 degree Celsius at Surendranagar and Kandla, IMD data showed. Ahmedabad city reported the maximum temperature of 41.8 degree Celsius.

On Monday, the temperature in Ahmedabad had touched 42.8 degree Celsius, highest for the month of March in the last seven years. Fourteen places in Odisha recorded temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius on Wednesday. The highest temperature was recorded in the city of Bolangir at 43.3 degrees Celsius while Titlagarh town sizzled at 43 degrees Celsius.

The Met Office said the heatwave would continue in the state for the next few days, making life unbearable.

Heat wave prevailed in almost 80 per cent of Madhya Pradesh today as the highest temperature of 42.9 degree Celsius was recorded in Hoshangabad district. “This situation may continue for at least another two or three days,” India Meteorological Department’s Bhopal centre director Dr Anupam Kashyapi told PTI Wednesday evening.

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