Mains Daily Question
March 28, 2023
“Without action plans, India’s poorest will continue to bear brunt of heatwaves”: In light of the statement, discuss the requirement of a robust disaster management infrastructure in India which can respond to the challenges posed by heat waves.
Introduction: Define heat wave (IMD) and explain what is a heat wave
- Mentions the impacts of heatwaves.
- Highlight the solutions required.
Conclusion: Connect the issue with variations in climate and an impending El Nino after a triple dip in La Nina and the impacts thereof on the rural economy.
According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), a heatwave is said to occur when the average maximum temperature is 4.5-6.4º C above the long-term average (or above 40º C in the plains, 30º C in hilly areas, or 37º C in coastal areas).
Impact of Heatwaves:
- Health risks: dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat strokes leading to high mortality both in humans and animals. It also leads to Overburdened healthcare systems. In 2022, over 200 people died due to a heatwave in Maharashtra.
- Reduced productivity and economic losses in agriculture and industry for example The Indian economy lost $70 billion due to heatwaves in 2019.
- Increased demand for electricity leading to power cuts and infrastructure failures e.g., In 2021, Chennai experienced power cuts for several hours due to high demand during a heatwave.
- Negative impacts on vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, pregnant women, and children.
- Water scarcity and droughts due to decreased rainfall and increased evaporation such as India faced severe droughts in 2019 and 2021 due to heatwaves.
- Due to dry conditions, there is an increased risk of wildfires and other natural disasters. In 2022, Uttarakhand faced a massive forest fire during a heatwave.
- Early warning systems and heatwave action plans at the national and state levels.
- Improved urban planning and design to reduce the urban heat island effect such as Ahmedabad implemented a Heat Action Plan in 2013.
- Awareness campaigns to educate the public on the risks and preventive measures for instance Kerala launched a Heatwave Awareness Campaign in 2021.
- Infrastructure improvements to ensure reliable power supply and prevent blackouts example, Mumbai introduced a smart grid system in 2019.
- Expansion of healthcare facilities and provision of adequate medical supplies for e.g., In 2020, Delhi converted wedding halls into temporary hospitals to treat heat-related illnesses.
- Sustainable water management strategies to ensure water availability during heat waves.
- Afforestation and restoration of degraded land to mitigate the impacts of heatwaves for example in 2021, the Indian government launched the Green India Mission to increase forest cover.
India needs to prioritize building a robust disaster management infrastructure that can respond to the challenges posed by heat waves, as India has been experiencing heat waves due to climate variations and El Nino after a triple dip in La Nina. Such efforts should align with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and focus on” Building better back” after disasters to ensure sustainability in the face of climate change.