Take proper steps to fight summer

Summer has sent the mercury and many worries soaring all over the country, especially in the southern and central parts of the country. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has identified over 50 districts, including some in Karnataka, as very vulnerable to heatwaves and dry weather. It has said that the country may experience a hotter than normal summer this year. In some states, temperatures are 7-8 degrees above normal and have touched levels not seen in the past many decades or ever. Summer has only started and it is to peak in May when the weather may become more unbearable. Two heatwave deaths have already been reported from Maharashtra. The below normal rainfall and drought conditions in the past years in some areas have aggravated the distress now. Climate change, rise in ocean temperatures and local reasons have all contributed to the change in summer heat patterns.

Governments and other agencies have to act fast to reduce the impact of high summer, protect the lives and health of people and minimise other kinds of damage.

The IMD, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and other agencies have put out an action plan to manage the heat-related problems. They include provision of drinking water in public places, changes in school and office timings where necessary, shifting hospital wards for women and children to lower floors, setting up of day shelters for the poor and regular dissemination of information to the public. Distribution of oral rehydration packets is also important. Some states have prepared their own plans and others should do so and implement them. There is at least one prediction about a deficient monsoon this year. If that happens, the situation will be much worse. Agriculture and related sectors will be particularly affected and for some regions it will mean continuing misery for the third consecutive year.

Shortage of water will be a serious problem which will have to specially addressed. Water levels in all the reservoirs in the south are below normal. They are also low in most rivers, wells and lakes. Enough water may not be available for drinking, power generation and other purposes. Reduced availability of water and power will add to the woes caused by heat. The authorities should pay particular attention to the problem of water. Health problems, diseases caused by heat and heat strokes are other matters of concern. All these needs and issues will have to be addressed by the authorities in their plans to fight the heat. Increasing the greenery, conservation of water and protection of nature should form part of long-term plans which people should also promote.

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