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On India’s ‘Heat Action Plans’

Published: 19th Apr, 2024


With rising temperatures across India and the onset of heat alerts as early as February, the effectiveness of Heat Action Plans (HAPs) in mitigating the impacts of heatwaves warrants examination.

1: Dimension - Implementation of Heat Action Plans
  • State-Level Preparedness: Governments at various levels have devised HAPs to enhance readiness and minimize adverse effects of heatwaves. Collaborative efforts between the National Disaster Management Authority, IMD, and 23 states aim to develop comprehensive HAPs tailored to local conditions.
  • Community Engagement: Effective implementation of HAPs requires active involvement and awareness among communities. Public participation through awareness campaigns, community meetings, and capacity-building workshops enhances the effectiveness of heat resilience measures.
  • Inter-Agency Coordination: Seamless coordination among various agencies and departments is vital for the successful execution of HAPs. Integration of efforts between health departments, disaster management authorities, and urban planning bodies ensures a holistic approach to heatwave management.
2: Dimension - Recommendations and Strategies
  • Mitigation Measures: HAPs advocate a range of strategies including early warning systems, public education campaigns, establishment of cooling centers, and provision of clean water to combat dehydration.
  • Healthcare Preparedness: Hospitals are advised to equip themselves with necessary supplies and trained personnel to manage heat-related illnesses, while long-term measures emphasize urban planning for heat resilience.
3: Dimension - Challenges and Limitations
  • Local Contextualization: HAPs face challenges in accurately defining heatwaves at local scales and incorporating factors like urban heat islands and humidity levels. A broader understanding of heatwave impacts beyond temperature is crucial for effective planning.
  • Methodological Consistency: Variability in vulnerability assessments across HAPs underscores the need for standardized climate risk assessments and hotspot mapping to prioritize interventions effectively.
  • Addressing Vulnerable Populations: While HAPs prioritize vulnerable groups, targeted interventions accounting for socio-economic disparities and infrastructure limitations are essential for equitable heat resilience.
  • Resource Allocation and Integration: Dedicated funding and integration of HAPs with broader urban resilience plans can enhance implementation and ensure effective utilization of resources.
  • Nature-Based Solutions: HAPs should emphasize nature-based solutions alongside infrastructural developments, incorporating green and blue spaces to combat extreme heat in hotspots effectively.

Fact Box

Heat Wave

  • Heat wave is a condition of air temperature which becomes fatal to human body when exposed.
  • Quantitatively, it is defined based on the temperature thresholds over a region in terms of actual temperature or its departure from normal.
  • For declaring a heat wave, the temperature should be 4.5 °C above normal for that time in a region.
  • The criteria for the coastal station maximum temperature should be greater than or equal to 37 °C.

Favourable conditions of heat wave formation

  • Transportation / Prevalence of hot dry air over a region: There should be a region of warm dry air and appropriate flow pattern for transporting hot air over the region.
  • Absence of moisture in the upper atmosphere: As the presence of moisture restricts the temperature rise.
  • The sky should be practically cloudless: To allow maximum insulation over the region.
  • Large amplitude anti-cyclonic flow over the area.

Mains Practice Question

Q: Assess the effectiveness of Heat Action Plans in mitigating the impacts of heatwaves in India.

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