Heat wave returns to parts of northern and eastern India

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New Delhi, Jun 10 (PTI) Heatwave conditions returned to parts of North India on Monday after a slight respite over the last few days, with temperatures crossing 45 degrees Celsius in many areas.

The India Meteorological Department said northwest and east India are in for another spell of extreme heat, with temperatures expected to rise by two to three degrees over the next five days.

On Monday, heatwave to severe heatwave conditions prevailed over parts of Gangetic West Bengal, while heatwave conditions affected some areas of Uttar Pradesh, south Bihar, Delhi, and Jharkhand.

In the national capital, Narela was the hottest at 46.6 degrees Celsius followed by Najafgarh at 46.3 degrees Celsius Seven places in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Madhya Pradesh reached or surpassed 45 degrees Celsius on Monday, with Prayagraj being the warmest place in the country at 46.3 degrees Celsius.

The Bihar education department on Monday ordered the closure of all government-run schools until June 15 citing the rising temperatures.

Maximum temperatures ranged from 42 to 45 degrees Celsius in many parts of Rajasthan, Punjab, and Delhi; in some parts of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh; and in isolated locations in Bihar, Jharkhand, Gangetic West Bengal and east Madhya Pradesh.

These temperatures were 3 to 5 degrees Celsius above normal in some of these regions, the Met office said.

The fresh spell of heatwave is likely to affect parts of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha, and Gangetic West Bengal, the Met office said.

India experienced multiple intense and prolonged heatwaves in April and May, testing the limits of human endurance and the country's disaster preparedness, as many states, including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Odisha, reported heatwave-related deaths.

Experts attribute the extreme heat to the naturally occurring El Nino phenomenon - an unusual warming of the ocean surface in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean - and the rapidly increasing concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Studies show that rapid urbanisation has exacerbated warming in urban areas, with outdoor workers and low-income households bearing the brunt of the impact.

The heatwave in May saw several places across the country, including the hills of Assam, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and Arunachal Pradesh, recording all-time high temperatures. The mercury breached 50 degrees Celsius in Rajasthan and neared this mark in Delhi and Haryana.

Similar heatwaves, occurring once every 30 years, have become about 45 times more likely due to climate change, according to 'World Weather Attribution', a group of leading climate scientists.

According to the Central Water Commission, water storage in 150 major reservoirs in India dropped to just 22 per cent of their live storage this week, exacerbating water shortages in many states and significantly affecting hydropower generation.

The intense heat has already driven India's power demand to a record 246 gigawatts, with air conditioners and coolers in homes and offices running at full capacity.

India recorded nearly 25,000 suspected heat stroke cases and 56 deaths due to heat-related illnesses from March to May, according to data from the health ministry.

As per the data compiled by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), 46 of these deaths were recorded in May alone (till May 30). Between May 1 and 30, 19,189 suspected heat stroke cases were reported in the country.

The data does not include deaths from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Delhi, and could just be the tip of the iceberg, officials said on condition of anonymity.

Severe heat waves have affected a large number of people in parts of India for three consecutive years, impacting health, water availability, agriculture, power generation, and other sectors of the economy.

According to a World Bank report, India could account for 34 million of the projected 80 million global job losses from heat stress-associated productivity decline by 2030.

Studies also show India faces food losses worth USD 13 billion a year, with only four per cent of fresh produce covered by cold chain facilities. PTI GVS GVS RT RT