Indian PM Modi urges states to prepare heat action plans as country swelters

India’s prime minister Narendra Modi has urged states to work on an action plan to combat the worsening heatwave situation in the country as temperatures in the last two months broke all records.

Mr Modi, who has just returned from a three-nation tour in Europe, addressed a high-level meeting on Thursday to review the situation related to heatwave management and preparedness for the upcoming monsoon.

According to Indian media reports, he advised states and union territories to prepare heat action plans at state, city and district levels.

At the national level, India’s disaster management authority is responsible for managing heatwave-related impacts.

Temperatures have hovered around the 40 degrees Celsius -104 degrees Fahrenheit – mark for days in the capital Delhi.

While such plans for wider natural disasters exist at state and local levels as well, just a few cities that are more prone to the phenomenon have dedicated heatwave response plans.

This year, however, India has been reeling under an unusually hot summer that began much earlier in March, recording some of the highest temperatures in over a century since the country began keeping records.

The India Meteorological Department has warned that the heatwave situation is set to continue, and get worse, in several pockets in the coming days as the country approaches the peak summer season of May-June when it is hottest.

The predictions remain in place despite some respite due to early monsoon showers in some areas.

The response from the prime minister comes after the impact of scorching heat led to an extreme coal shortage in the country because of an increase in demand for electricity.

A massive landfill in capital Delhi also caught fire and prices of fresh vegetables like lemons have soared with seasonal crops destroyed because of the extreme weather.

The impact is also visible in the form of heat stress as demands to shut down schools have been raised in several parts of the country.

This year’s extreme temperatures come after India’s heatwave situation has become more severe and frequent over the years, as the planet gets hotter due to climate change.

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