Daily Answer Writing And Mentorship Program
Q: Assess the importance of establishing a resilient disaster management infrastructure in India that can proficiently address the distinct challenges posed by heat waves. (10 Marks, 150 Words)
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According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), a heatwave is said to occur when the average maximum temperature is 4.5-6.4º C above the long-term average (or above 40º C in the plains, 30º C in hilly areas, or 37º C in coastal areas).
Heatwaves in India are caused by rapid urbanization, leading to the urban heat island effect, as well as climate change, which raises temperatures and alters weather patterns. Delayed or weak monsoons, deforestation, land use changes, air pollution, and human activities further contribute to the intensity and frequency of heatwaves.
Impact of Heatwaves:
· Health risks: dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat strokes leading to high mortality both in humans and animals. It also leads to Overburdened healthcare systems. In 2022, over 200 people died due to a heatwave in Maharashtra.
· Reduced productivity and economic losses in agriculture and industry for example the Indian economy lost $70 billion due to heatwaves in 2019.
· Increased demand for electricity leading to power cuts and infrastructure failures e.g., In 2021, Chennai experienced power cuts for several hours due to high demand during a heatwave.
· Water scarcity and droughts due to decreased rainfall and increased evaporation such as India faced severe droughts in 2019 and 2021 due to heatwaves.
· Due to dry conditions, there is an increased risk of wildfires and other natural disasters. In 2022, Uttarakhand faced a massive forest fire during a heatwave.
Measures for robust infrastructure:
· Improved urban planning and design to reduce the urban heat island effect such as Ahmedabad implemented a Heat Action Plan in 2013.
· Awareness campaigns to educate the public on the risks and preventive measures for instance Kerala launched a Heatwave Awareness Campaign in 2021.
· Infrastructure improvements to ensure reliable power supply and prevent blackouts example, Mumbai introduced a smart grid system in 2019.
· Expansion of healthcare facilities and provision of adequate medical supplies for e.g., In 2020, Delhi converted wedding halls into temporary hospitals to treat heat-related illnesses.
· Early warning systems and heatwave action plans at the national and state levels.
· Afforestation and restoration of degraded land to mitigate the impacts of heatwaves for example in 2021, the Indian government launched the Green India Mission to increase forest cover.
- Establishing cooling centres and shelters equipped with adequate resources can provide relief for those without access to air conditioning or proper housing during heat waves.
· Continuous research and development initiatives can lead to improved heat wave prediction models, innovative cooling technologies, and adaptive measures to enhance resilience.
Given India’s exposure to heat waves resulting from climate variations and El Nino, it is crucial to prioritize the development of a strong disaster management infrastructure in alignment with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. Emphasizing post disaster sustainability (Building Better Back) is essential for building resilience against climate change.