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Climate Change

India’s ‘Heat Trap’ Cities Make Summers Worse, Says Government Official

The IMD has forecast above-normal temperatures for June in the northwest and central parts of India including Delhi, making it one of the longest heatwave spells

India's 'Heat Trap' Cities Make Summers Worse, Says Government Official
Scorching summer has claimed many lives in some parts of the country

New Delhi: Indian cities have become “heat traps” due to their unbalanced growth devouring water bodies and increasing greenhouse emissions, a senior government official said on Monday (June 17), as a scorching summer killed dozens in some parts of the country.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast above-normal temperatures for June in the northwest and central parts of the country including Delhi, making it one of the longest heatwave spells.

Also Read: Centre Tells States To Be Prepared To Meet Challenges Of Heat Wave, Forest Fires

The highest daily temperatures in the capital have stayed above 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) since May 12 and are forecast to fall below that mark only on June 26. The IMD’s heatwave criteria start with 40 degrees in the plains and 30 degrees for hills where it is generally cooler because of elevation.

Delhi, which is also facing a water shortage, recorded about 44 degrees late Monday afternoon but the IMD said it felt like 49.2 degrees. Krishna S. Vatsa, a member of the National Disaster Management Authority, told Reuters,

Climate change plays an important role.

Unbalanced urban growth, which has reduced wetlands and water bodies, was another factor, Mr Vatsa said.

The emission of greenhouse gases has gone up. The permeable spaces have gone down considerably. The cities actually have become heat traps.

As a result, he said, nights are nearly as uncomfortable as days.

According to a study by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) published last month, land surface temperatures in the summers of 2001 to 2010 in cities such as Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai used to drop by up to 13.2 degrees during the night from their day-time peak. Between 2014 and 2023 they were only cooling off by up to 11.5 degrees.

The Centre’s report said,

Hot nights are as dangerous as mid-day peak temperatures. People get little chance to recover from day-time heat if temperatures remain high overnight.

Mr Vatsa said most Indian states were implementing heat action plans that include provisioning drinking water and better medical facilities, as well as rescheduling outdoor work and school vacations.

But Anumita Roychowdhury, CSE’s executive director, said there was no clear mandate to implement long-term strategies. Delhi’s long-term plan includes increasing heat insulation of buildings, developing shelters for urban poor and slum dwellers, and investing in cooling water bodies.

Such plans need to be backed financially, said Vishwas Chitale of the Council on Energy, Environment and Water think tank in New Delhi. He said,

Cities are struggling with their own finance and they don’t have additional budget to implement actions for heat.

(Reporting by Krishna N. Das, Shivangi Acharya and Jatindra Dash; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)

Also Read: Heat Wave Kills At Least 56 In India, Nearly 25,000 Heat Stroke Cases, From March-May

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which in its Season 10 is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Ayushmann Khurrana. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ populationindigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In a world post COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental well-being, self-care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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