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Lok Sabha elections likely to be held amidst heatwave, warns IMD

The duration of the heatwave days could be six to 15 days longer than average, exposing the people and politicians to climatological heat across the country.
Last Updated 01 March 2024, 15:17 IST

New Delhi: The Lok Sabha elections are likely to be held amidst heatwave in most parts of the country, India Meteorological Department (IMD) warned on Friday, while sharing the weather outlook for the next three months.

“During March-April-May 2024, above-normal number of heatwave days are likely over most parts of the country,” IMD Director General Mrutyunjay Mohapatra said, adding that western Himalayas, north-east India and parts of peninsular India would be spared.

The duration of the heatwave days could be six to 15 days longer than average, exposing the people and politicians to climatological heat across the country, apart from the political one, which will rise in April-May coinciding with the Lok Sabha polls.

The rise in temperature is expected to begin around Holi (March 25) when parts of central India, Vidarbha, north Karnataka and Rayalaseema regions may experience above-normal temperature. The temperature will further rise in April and May.

As the Election Commission (EC) gears up for the general elections in summer, weather scientists have advised the officials and political parties to keep an eye on IMD’s heatwave alerts and plan accordingly.

“Election campaigns, rallies, and the election process itself should be planned with the heat impacts factored in. The IMD will be disseminating heatwave forecasts, which should be watched for, on a daily basis,” said Roxy Mathew Koll, a scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune.

The warning comes a year after 14 people died in a heat-stroke episode in Maharashtra while taking part in an award function involving senior leaders.

Thousands of people attended the event in the scorching sun where social activist Dattatreya Narayan alias Appasaheb Dharmadhikari was presented the Maharashtra Bhushan award by Union Home Minister Amit Shah in the presence of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and other leaders.

“On the day of the incident, the closest meteorological observatories recorded a maximum temperature of 34-38 degree Celsius, along with a relatively high humidity (45 per cent), exacerbating the impact of the heat. People are advised to stay indoors during such peak heat hours,” Koll said, participating in a conference organised by the Centre for Science and Environment.

Nine of the 14 victims of the sunstroke were females and eight of them were in the vulnerable age bracket of 42-62.

An analysis of the heatwave trend seen over India between 1976 and 2005 has shown 2.5 times rise in the frequency of summer heatwaves and 1.2 times increase in the duration of heatwave events.

"Above normal maximum temperatures shall prevail during the summer season over most parts of the country. Even though El Nino conditions are waning, it will still drive the temperatures above normal and contribute to prolonging the heatwave spells,” added Mohapatra.

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(Published 01 March 2024, 15:17 IST)

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