Record heatwave hits India and Pakistan, the worst is yet to come

NEW DELHI: A record heatwave has hit India and Pakistan, causing power outages and water shortages for millions of people who are expected to experience this blast furnace more frequently in the future, climate experts say.
The temperature in Delhi approached 46 degrees Celsius on Thursday. And this extreme heatwave is expected to continue raging in north-west and central India for five more days and in the east by the end of the week, according to the Indian Meteorological Agency.

“This is the first time I’ve seen such a heat in April,” says Dara Singh, 65, who has run a small street shop in Delhi since 1978. “The betel leaves I use to make the paan spoil faster than usual. Usually this happens in May, in the height of summer.”

India’s northwest Rajasthan, western Gujarat and southern Andhra Pradesh have imposed blackouts on factories to curb consumption. According to press reports, large power plants are facing coal shortages.

Several regions in the country of 1.4 billion people reported a drop in water supplies, which will worsen ahead of the annual monsoon rains in June and July.

In March, Delhi experienced a high of 40.1 degrees, the hottest temperature that month since 1946.

“Warmer and more dangerous” waves

Heatwaves have killed more than 6,500 people in India since 2010. Scientists say they are more common but also more severe due to climate change.

“Climate change makes high temperatures more likely in India,” said Dr. Mariam Zachariah of Grantham Institute, Imperial College London.

“Before human activities increased global temperatures, heat like the one that hit India earlier this month would only have been observed about every 50 years,” the expert added.

“We can now expect such high temperatures about every four years,” she warns.

For his colleague Dr. Friederike Otto, Senior Lecturer in Climate Science at the Grantham Institute, “Heat waves in India and elsewhere will continue to get hotter and more dangerous until net greenhouse gas emissions end. greenhouse effect”.

“Temperatures are rising rapidly across the country, much earlier than usual,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday, a day after a fire broke out on the 60-meter-tall Bhalswa garbage dump in north Delhi.

Firefighters were still battling the blaze Thursday, whose thick smoke was contributing to air pollution, in hopes of bringing it under control by Friday, according to a fire official in the capital.

Three more fires broke out in less than a month at the capital’s largest landfill, Ghazipur, a gigantic mountain of rubbish 65 meters high.

48 degrees in Pakistan

The megalopolis of more than 20 million people lacks modern infrastructure to process the 12,000 tons of waste it produces every day.

According to Pradeep Khandelwal, ex-Head of Delhi’s Waste Management Department, all of these fires are likely caused by the extremely high temperatures that accelerate the decomposition of organic waste.

Neighboring Pakistan also experienced extreme heat on Thursday, which is expected to continue into next week. Temperatures are expected to be 8 degrees above normal in parts of the country, reaching 48 degrees in parts of rural Sindh on Wednesday, according to the Pakistan Meteorological Society.

Farmers must manage the water supply wisely in this country where agriculture, the mainstay of the economy, employs around 40% of the total labor force.

“The country’s public health and agriculture will face serious threats from this year’s extreme temperatures,” said Climate Minister Sherry Rehman.

March was the hottest since 1961, according to the Pakistan Weather Bureau.

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