The Indian Meteorological Department has cautioned the people of Telangana to brace for heatwave conditions in the state. On Saturday, two districts in the state – Adilabad and Ramagundam – recorded 44 degree Celsius temperatures.
Speaking to TNM, IMD scientist B Raja Rao said, “The day time temperature would continue to be like this (43-44 degree Celsius) until the onset of the monsoon. If it exceeds 44 degrees, we will declare a heat wave.”
“Two days ago, Adilabad recorded 44.8 degree Celsius, which is close to 45 degree. However, the temperature plummeted the next day after a small spell of rainfall, so we didn’t declare a heatwave condition,” he added.
The department also forecasted that there would be thunderstorm accompanied by gusty winds in isolated parts of Adilabad, Nirmal, Nizamabad, Komarambheem-Asifabad, Mancherial, Jagityal, Peddapalle, Jayashankar Bhupalpalle, Bhadradri Kothagudem,Warangal, Mahabubabad districts of Telangana for the next two days.
What is a heatwave?
According to the National Disaster Management Authority: “Heatwave is a period of abnormally high temperatures, more than the normal maximum temperature that occurs during the summer season in the North-Western parts of India. They typically occur during the months of March and June, and sometimes extend even till July. These extreme temperatures and resultant atmospheric conditions adversely affect people living in these regions as they cause physiological stress, sometimes resulting in death.”
IMD Hyderabad scientist, Dr B Raja Rao explained that heatwave can be determined when the temperature increases by 5-6 degrees beyond normal temperature.
“If the temperature is 5 or 6 degree more than the normal temperature, it would be declared moderate heatwave, and if the temperature exceeds 7 degrees or more, then we declare it as severe heatwave. While these are the parameters to declare heatwave, irrespective of all these factors, when the temperature reaches 45 degrees we call it a heatwave and alert the state disaster management,” Rao stated.
Action plan during Heatwave
To minimize the casualties and prevent deaths in case of a heatwave, the state disaster management authority has already constituted a steering committee involving all the government departments like Medical and Health Department, Panchayat Raj Department, Rural Development Department.
The department after receiving a weather alert from the Indian Meteorological department about the rising temperature, would soon disseminate the information across the state departments.
The department has conducted workshops on how to handle the crisis.
The department has four color-coded alerts: white alert for normal temperature, yellow alert for heatwave warning, orange alert for moderate heatwave condition, and red alert for severe heatwave condition.
The department has issued specific instructions to each department in the state to prevent deaths.
I & PR department: The I & PR department has been instructed to spread messages about heatwave to general public and vulnerable groups through radio, WhatsApp, press meets, Twitter and Facebook.
Medical and Health Department: The department has been instructed to equip themselves with additional supplies of medicine and material, deploy additional staff at Primary Health Centres (PHC) and Urban Health Centres (UHC) to attend the heavy influx of patients, keep emergency wards ready in all the PHCs, UHCs and hospitals, report heat stroke patients to the nodal officer on a daily basis, and expedite recording of cause of death in death certificates.
Besides, the Regional Health Officers are directed to visit the PHCs and UHCs to inspect if the hospitals are prepared to admit heat stroke patients.
The 108/104 ambulance services are also instructed to have adequate supply of ice packs. IV fluids and medicines.
Municipal Administration and Urban Development: The MA and UD have been instructed to extend the duration of public parks for long hours, so that general public can relax and keep themselves cool. They’ve also been asked to set up electronic scrolling boards to display temperature and forecasts at junctions and activate ‘cooling centres’ – temples, libraries, schools and malls to be open for general public.
Labour and Employment Department: The department has been directed to encourage employers to shift outdoor workers’ schedules away during the peak afternoons hours (12-4 pm), ensure provision of shelters, cooling areas, and ensure medicines at worksites.
How to determine if the deaths are caused by heatwave
The government has taken cognizance that the ex-gratia amount for the heatwave victims were exploited by a few in the past and to ensure that the funds are not misused, the department has three checklists before giving the ex-gratia: recording of maximum temperature of the place, autopsy reports, and local authority verification report.