A gruelling heat wave, which continues to sweep many parts of India, has claimed 130 lives so far, the Times of India (ToI) reported on Friday.
With the summer season yet to reach its peak, the astonishingly high number of casualties at such an early stage should be cause for alarm.
According to a report from April 5, the ongoing heat wave would most likely intensify in the coming days, with day temperatures likely to remain above normal in parts of north-west, central India and also parts of south India.
According to Pune-based Indian Institute of Tropical Metrology, heat wave conditions would develop over central India during April 2-6, while during the remaining part of the month, near-normal day temperatures might prevail over most parts of country.
Central India comprises Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat and Maharashtra.
What do the next 5 days have in store for the people
According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), Friday and Saturday will see heat wave conditions very likely at isolated places over Haryana, Chandigarh & Delhi, Rajasthan, Bihar, Gangetic West Bengal, Odisha, Madhya Maharashtra, Marathwada, Vidarbha, Telangana and Rayalaseema.
Isolated areas in Tamil Nadu are likely to witness heatwave conditions only on Friday.
Delhi and Haryana, for their part, will likely see dust and thunder-storm, accompanied by squall, on Sunday and Monday.
From April 15 (Friday) to April 19 (Tuesday), IMD has forecast no other heat wave warning.
Overall, according to the IMD, maximum temperatures likely to rise by 23 degree Celsius over plains of northwest India & central India and by 12 degree Celsius over West India, Telangana and Rayalaseema during next 23 days.
According to the ToI report, temperatures might come "down a notch or two" by Sunday as isolated dust-storms and thundershowers might cool the northern plains.
Worst hit areas
According to the ToI report, peninsular India and surrounding regions are unlikely to receive any respite. The report added that, till Friday, 100 people had lost their lives in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh due to the heat wave and sunstroke had caused 30 deaths in Odisha.
Especially in the case of Telangana, the situation is unlikely to change for the better as heat wave conditions are likely to prevail at most places in the state on Friday and Saturday, including in districts like Hyderabad, Nizamabad, Karimnagar, Rangareddy, Khammam, Medak.
Telangana alone has seen 35 deaths so far due to the blistering heat.
"Dry weather is likely to prevail over the state with most places likely to record maximum temperature between 42 and 45 degrees Celsius," an release issued by IMD said.
Water levels in 91 major reservoirs across the country do not look promising. There could be a serious drawdown if the heat wave persists beyond June.
From Central Water Commission (CWC) data, as of March 31, 2016, the level in the reservoirs is a combined 25% of their full capacity.
More than the national average, the regional picture is of greater concern. A severe drinking water, power and irrigation crisis looms in parts of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Maharashtra. Levels in the reservoirs of southern and western India are 17% and 21 per cent, respectively, of their full capacity.
Of particular cause of concern is that this is also part of the area which might see a 0.5-1 degrees Celsius above normal temperature in April-June, according to IMD's forecast.
IMD's March-end forecast had said that maximum temperatures in the core heat wave zone, which included the meteorological sub-divisions of Marathwada, Vidharbha, Madhya Maharashtra, coastal Andhra and Telangana, was expected to stay above normal. This could lead to quicker than expected drying of water in regional reservoirs.
The CWC data showed the water level in the Yeldagri and Manikdohi dams of Maharashtra were around 4 and 8%, respectively, of their full levels. Yeldagri is the second largest dam in the state's Marathwada region. The Girna (Nashik), Ujjani (Solapur) and Paithan reservoirs have already gone dry. The Nagarjunasagar reservoir in Andhra is dry. Levels in the Almatti, Malaprabha and Tungabhadra reservoirs are less than 10% of their full capacity.
As on April 2, 2016, all 12 river basins had water levels less than last year at this time.
"The winter rainfall was less and if the summer turns out to be drier than usual, it can cause severe shortage of water in vulnerable areas as in the next three months demand will peak," Bharat Sharma, coordinator at International Water Management Institute — India Programme, told Business Standard.
He added that there is a serious mismatch between demand and supply of water in Vidharbha, Marathwada, Odisha, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh as these areas do not have adequate canal irrigation, while the ground water is also falling.
Tips to survive the heat
According to a ToI report, O Nagendra Goud, a senior meteorologist at IMD Hyderabad, has cautioned people in affected areas to adequately "shield" themselves from the sun between noon and 3 pm as a precautionary measure.
"Owing to the lack of moisture in the air, there is a lot of dry heat, which can seriously affect people. The heat that is prevailing in the city is dry heat, which is dangerous for the body," he said.
According to the report, officials from the state disaster response force have said that the impact of heat wave on people's health "revolves around dehydration, heat cramps, exhaustion and heatstrokes".
The report added that the signs and symptoms of heat cramps are swelling and fainting, generally accompanied by fever. The symptoms of heat exhaustion include, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, muscle cramps and vomiting.
General measures include staying hydrated and avoiding substances, like alcohol and caffeine, which can act as diuretics.
Avoid sitting in a parked car for a long time. The inside of a vehicle parked in the sun is likely to be far more stifling, and this can prove especially harmful for children.
Courtesy : Business Standard
Photo Amarjeet Singh IRIN