The death toll in the sweltering heat sweeping many parts of the country has climbed to 1826. Officials say most of the deaths were reported from northern and southern India over the past week, with temperatures over 47 degree Celsius baking states such as Andhra Pradesh and Telangana as well as New Delhi. The months of May and June are India’s hottest months, with temperatures regularly pushing above 40 Celsius – meteorologists say the number of days when temperatures approach 45 degree Celsius has increased in the past 15 years.
After a heat wave hit Ahmedabad, a western city of 5.5 million people, in May 2010, killing over 1,300 people, local authorities mapped areas with “high-risk” populations including slums, as part of an action plan.They also built public awareness of the risks of high temperatures and set up “cooling spaces” in temples, public buildings and malls in the sizzling summer months.More frequent and intense extreme weather events are also expected, putting towns and cities in disaster-prone countries like India at greater risk. Many of India’s 1.2 billion people live in areas vulnerable to floods, cyclones and droughts.”The situation is horrible. It is so bad that we are not able to stay at home nor can we go out,” said Debaria Bagh, 35, a cycle rickshaw driver in Titilagarh town in Odisha.Cities like New Delhi and Ahmedabad were hardest hit because of the heat reflected off paved surfaces and a lack of trees.Compared to 2010, heat waves have been shorter but killed more people, said Arjuna Srinidhi, climate change programme manager at theCentre for Science and the Environment.