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28th March 2023 (7 Topics)

Action plan against heatwaves in India

Context

Following Prime Minister’s high-level meeting to review the heatwaves preparedness — a new report by the Centre for Policy Research indicates that the country is ill-prepared to face the heat.

What is Heat wave?

  • A heat wave is a period of unusually hot weather that typically lasts two or more days.
  • To be considered a heat wave, the temperatures have to be outside the historical averages for a given area.

Highlights of the report:

  • Theme: “How is India Adapting to Heatwaves?”
  • Released by: Centre for Policy Research.
  • The current report analysed 37 heat action plans at the city (9), district (13) and State (15) levels across 18 States.
  • It found that nearly all HAPs fail to identify and target vulnerable groups and are underfunded with weak legal foundations and are insufficiently transparent.
  • Key findings:
    • It indicates that the country is ill-prepared to face the heat.
    • The report states that only — two HAPs carry out and present vulnerability assessments (systematic studies to locate where the people most likely to be affected are in a city, district, or State).
    • While most HAPs list broad categories of vulnerable groups (elderly, outdoor workers, pregnant women) and the list of solutions they do not necessarily focus on these groups.
    • Additionally only three of 37 HAPs identify funding sources and eight HAPs ask implementing departments to self-allocate resources, indicating a serious funding constraint.

Need of the initiative:

  • Extreme heat poses an unprecedented challenge to health and productivity, cautioned the centre adding that heat waves (prolonged periods of extreme heat) have increased in frequency in recent decades due to climate change.
  • Landmark heatwaves (1998, 2002, 2010, 2015, and 2022) have each led to large death tolls (according to government estimates) and extensive economic damage by reducing labour productivity and affecting water availability, agriculture, and energy systems.

India and Heatwave:

  • Governments across India at the State, district, and municipal levels have responded by creating heat action plans (HAPs), which prescribe a variety of preparatory activities and post-heatwaves response measures across government departments to decrease the impact of heatwaves.
  • Criteria for declaring Heat Wave: Heat wave is considered if the maximum temperature of a station reaches at least 40 degree Celsius or more for Plains and at least 30 degree Celsius or more for Hilly regions.
  • Period of Heat Wave in India: It is occurring mainly during March to June and in some rare cases even in July. The peak month of the heat wave over India is May.
  • The heat wave prone states over India: Heat waves generally occur over plains of northwest India, Central, East & north Peninsular India during March to June.
  • It covers Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Gujarat, parts of Maharashtra & Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Sometimes it occurs over Tamilnadu & Kerala also.
  • Favourable conditions for Heat wave:
    • Transportation / Prevalence of hot dry air over a region
    • Absence of moisture in the upper atmosphere
    • The sky should be practically cloudless
    • Large amplitude anticyclonic flow over the area.

Heat Index: The heat index is the combination of air temperature and relative humidity; it measures how hot it really feels when relative humidity is factored in with the actual air temperature.

  • Health Impacts of Heat Waves: The health impacts of Heat Waves typically involve dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and/or heat stroke.

 

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