Govt may declare heat wave a natural calamity

After cold wave and frost, the government may announce heat wave as a natural calamity due to largescale deaths in various parts of the country. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has asked the Group of Ministers (GoM) on natural calamities to look into the demand of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) vice-chairman M Shashidhar Reddy.

Reddy along and Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi are special invitees to the six-member GoM which has Ministers P Chidambaram, Sharad Pawar, Sushilkumar Shinde and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montekl Singh Alhuwalia among others.

The country has witnessed a total of 1,453 deaths due to heat wave this year alone with Andhra Pradesh topping the list with 1,157. Last year, 447 people died in Andhra due to heat wave and there was a more than two-fold increase in the toll.

The figures for other states are Gujarat (100), Maharashtra (90), Odisha (37), Rajasthan (35) and Bihar (34). “Last year, cold wave and frost were declared as natural calamities. There were requests from states. On the basis of these requests, I wrote to the prime minister and he directed the GoM to look into it,” Reddy told Deccan Herald.

He said due to the large number of deaths due to heat waves reported from Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, there was an urgency to amend the guidelines dealing with calamity and include heat wave in the category. If heat wave is declared a natural calamity, relief can be given under National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF).

Provisions hold, a compensation of Rs 1.5 lakh is given to the next of kin of those killed in natural calamity.

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