A man drinks water from a bottle on a hot summer day in Allahabad on April 30, 2022. (SANJAY KANOJIA / AFP)
MUMBAI – Parts of India recorded their highest average temperatures on record in April, and the scorching weather is expected to stretch into May, authorities said on Saturday.
India and neighboring Pakistan have been suffering from extreme heat waves this year, melting pavements, forcing school closures and triggering health and fire alerts.
Northwest and central India recorded average maximum temperatures of 35.9 and 37.78 degrees Celsius respectively in April, the Director General of the Indian Meteorological Department told reporters.
Those were the highest since it began keeping records 122 years ago, Mrutyunjay Mohapatra added.
Northwest and central India recorded average maximum temperatures of 35.9 and 37.78 degrees Celsius respectively in April.Those were the highest since it began keeping records 122 years ago
More than a billion people are at risk of heat-related impacts in the region, scientists have warned, linking the early onset of an intense summer to climate change.
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For the first time in decades, Pakistan went from winter to summer without the spring season, Pakistan's Federal Minister for Climate Change, Sherry Rehman said.
Glaciers in the Himalaya, Hindu Kush and Karkoram mountain ranges have melted rapidly, creating thousand of glacial lakes in northern Pakistan, around 30 of which were at risk of sudden hazardous flooding, the climate change ministry said, adding around 7 million people were vulnerable.
A senior scientist at the India Meteorological Department said on Friday heat conditions would persist for at least the next three days, but that temperatures would fall after the arrival of monsoons, expected in some parts by May.
Bigger Worry Than COVID
The health problems triggered by the heatwave were posing a bigger worry than the expected fourth wave of COVID-19, doctors in India said.
"We are getting many patients who have suffered heatstroke or other heat-related problems," said Mona Desai, former president of Ahmedabad Medical Association in the western Indian state of Gujarat.
She said that 60-70 percent of the patients were school-aged complaining of vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal colic, weakness and other symptoms.
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Roads were deserted in Bhubaneshwar, in India's eastern state of Odisha, where schools have been shut, while neighbouring West Bengal advanced the school summer break by a few days.
The increased demand for power from rising temperatures combined with fuel shortages and infrastructure issues put pressure on Pakistan's electricity system, leading to regular power cuts, known as load shedding.
Residents of northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province said that at times the power was out for between 10 and 14 hours a day, leaving few options to cool down.
Amid the heatwave, India canceled passenger trains to free up rail track to move coal as the government scrambles to overcome its worst power crisis in years.
Federal government-run Indian Railways has canceled 753 passenger train services, the government said. Coal inventories are at the lowest pre-summer levels in at least nine years and electricity demand is seen rising at the fastest pace in nearly four decades.
"The government has decided to cancel … passenger trains in order to prioritize the movement of coal rakes (trains) across the country to deal with an unprecedented shortage of the vital input at thermal power plants," the government said.
It did not say how long the train service would be canceled for or how commuters would manage without it. The cancellations will primarily impact passengers traveling from key coal-producing states, including Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand.
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Pesky power cuts have been reported in Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Punjab, Haryana and Indian-controlled Kashmir at a time when mercury continues to rise.
With inputs from Xinhua