Heat Wave In India: The Hits And More Heats Of The Heat!

The Indian summer begins from around the end of March and temperatures start soaring reaching the peak in the month of May in the range of 40 to 47/48 degree Celsius in most parts of North, North-Western and Central regions. This year, 2022, however, the heat began from the second part of March and temperatures soared to much above normal by mid-April reaching the forties. Immediately thereafter, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) had declared heat wave conditions and then orange alert in various parts of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand. Normally, heat wave conditions are declared when temperatures cross the 40 mark and orange alert as the 45 is crossed. The capital city Delhi has been in heat wave conditions for the last fortnight and on Friday, the 29th of April, the mercury has crossed 46.4 making this month the hottest ever April in the capital in 72 years. As per the IMD data this April could very well be the hottest ever April in history in India. The IMD has, of course, hinted at a respite predicting rains/thunder showers in the North-Western belt after 2nd May.  But what is store after that in the usually hottest month of May? There is an ominous prediction from the IMD that the mercury could reach 50 in Rajasthan and probably in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra too. We must brace for the worst even as there have some other grim additional hits and heats of the heat.


The first major hit-of-the-heat is emanating from the extreme coal shortage in the country. States like Maharashtra and others have already had power outages as the thermal plants are running out of coal. The hit is further heightened by the Government of Maharashtra’s allegation that the central Government is deliberately cutting off supply of coal as this state is ruled by a non-BJP coalition. This allegation is not at all helped by the Union Coal Ministry’s assurance that the country has enough supply of coal to sail through the crisis, because many other states are also facing the heat of this hit. The Indian Railways have cancelled more than 700 trips involving 42 passenger trains to prioritize the smooth movement of the coal rakes. So, the question arises as to how this crisis is allowed to happen considering the obvious fact that demand for power was bound to soar after the two-year pandemic slump as all COVID-related restrictions were lifted from March onward, apart from the other more obvious fact that demand for power reaches its peak during the months of April and Many even otherwise every year.


According to an IndianExpress report, 108 of India’s 173 coal-fired thermal plants have critically low levels of coal supply and that around 75% of the country’s power requirements come from coal-fired thermal plants with the Railways being the main transporter of the black gold. The report says further that many thermal plants dependent on imported coal have stopped generation of power due to increasing international prices of coal. Referring to experts the report sends a warning that this crisis could get even worse in the monsoon season as during that period coal transportation is negatively impacted by weather conditions and the thermal plants have very little buffer of coal at the moment.


The poor on the streets, the workers who have to come out every day for survival, the lower middle classes boxed in the congested society or chawl or slum flats/hutments of the urban areas and the farmers on the fields will have to bear the worst hits. Not to speak of the surging electricity bills combined with the ever-increasing prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas. Their inhuman conditions are not at all helped by the unfortunate occurrences of even more heats of the third kind. In Maharashtra, the MNS leader Raj Thackeray is hitting only at the common people by creating a provocative environment involving the Hanuman Chalisa and the Azaan. In Karnataka, the heats are ever flowing: from the hijab dress-code to the halal-meat controversies; the Azaan loudspeakers; and then expanding the heat on to the Bible. Whatever must have happened in Punjab is also very unfortunate. The only pleasant surprise is coming from Uttar Pradesh with its Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, elected for his second term only recently, removing all the illegal loudspeakers and reducing the decibel-limits of the other ones from all places of worship, irrespective of religions.


When the citizens of the country are suffering from the relentless heat, obviously a result of the global warming, the governments should focus more on how to provide them with some much-needed relief rather than resorting to more and more load shedding and scoring political brownie points at the sole expense of the common struggling citizens. Even the IPL-2022 is being adversely affected by the heat with the batsmen running dehydrated and struggling to score totals of just about 150 or so. Only the advertisements or the commercials are very cool indeed, with everyone featuring in them dancing in wild celebration of what we know not.