India’s cities and districts must speed up efforts to protect the vulnerable as summer builds up this year , according to this report. Temperatures have touched the 40 degrees Celsius (°C) mark in March across large parts of central and western India. Many cities are reeling under heatwaves. Extreme temperatures are being recorded in Himachal Pradesh and Kerala, states with no history of heatwaves. The number of states affected by heatwaves stood at 28 in 2019, up from 19 the year before. A few states have made heat action plans. Andhra Pradesh, issued heat warnings and created public awareness among the public and health workers. Odisha restricted public transportation services during peak hours in the summer to limit the exposure of passengers to heat stress, according to the report. These plans follow the success of Ahmedabad’s heat action plan introduced in 2013 — the first such initiative developed in south Asia.
The report recommends that a state’s heat action plans should incorporate five core elements:
- Community outreach to build awareness
- Early warning systems to alert the public
- Training of healthcare workers
- Focussing on the vulnerable population such as farmers, construction workers, traffic police
- Implementing adaptive measures such as providing drinking water, cooling centres, gardens, shade spaces during extreme heat days