Heat Wave: After Coronavirus Robbed Them of Livelihoods, India’s Poorest Have Another Disaster to Battle


Heat Wave: After Coronavirus Robbed Them of Livelihoods, India’s Poorest Have Another Disaster to Battle

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

As India battles the coronavirus pandemic, aftermath of Cyclone Amphan, and the locust attacks in parts of the country, it now has a heat wave to factor in, as the misery just piles on in 2020. For the past five days, Rajasthan, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra have been experiencing severe to very severe heatwave conditions. Churu in Rajasthan reported 50 degrees on Tuesday.

When the day temperature jumps by 4-5 degrees above the normal maximum temperature of a location, it is declared as a heatwave. A heat wave generally lasts for a minimum of four days and can extend up to seven-ten days. The longest recorded heat wave spell, in recent years, was between 18-31 May 2015.

Satellite images from a NASA tool confirm the assertion that the northern area has been particularly hotter and that the heat wave is likely to stay around for the next few days.

The weather conditions are expected to last until the weekend and officials have warned people to stay indoors as much as possible. India is seeing the highest temperatures in decades for this time of the year, according to experts. North India and South Pakistan were reported to be the hottest regions of the world on Tuesday.

Delhi recorded the hottest day in May in 18 years, with the capital recording a temperature of 47.6 degrees Celsius. Bikaner recorded maximum temperatures of 47.4 degrees Celsius, Ganganagar 47 degrees Celsius, 46.5 degrees Celsius in Kota and 45 degrees Celsius in Jaipur.

Cyclone Amphan has been cited as one of the reasons for the heat wave. Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, India’s meteorological chief, said that the cyclone effectively sucked the moisture in the air and triggered hot dry winds that are now blowing over large swathes of northern and central Indian plains.

In recent years, heat waves have caused a number of deaths, mainly daily wage workers, rickshaw drivers, street vendors and the homeless, many of whom are the most exposed to the sun. The problem this year has been severely aggravated by the Coronavirus crisis, with thousands of migrants walking on highways in scorching heat without much food or water.

A PIB press release has stated that, “Heatwave to continue for next 24 hours over plains of NW India, Central India & adjoining interior parts of eastern India. SW Monsoon to advance further in parts of Andaman Sea & some more parts of south & central Bay of Bengal during next 48 hrs.”

With thousands of migrants travelling across the country through Shramik trains and other forms of transport, it is vital that the state infrastructure is able to assist them with food and water so they don’t have to face the brunt of yet another calamity.