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UPSC Sansad TV: AIR- Prevention & Preparedness for Heatwaves

 

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Heatwaves:

  • Qualitatively, heat wave is a condition of air temperature which becomes fatal to human body when exposed.
  • Quantitatively, it is defined based on the temperature thresholds over a region in terms of actual temperature or its departure from normal.
  • In certain countries it is defined in term of the heat index based on temperature and humidity or based on extreme percentile of the temperatures.
  • Heat Waves typically occur between March and June, and in some rare cases even extend till July.
  • The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has given the following criteria for Heat Waves:
    • Heat Wave need not be considered till the maximum temperature of a station reaches at least 40°C for Plains and at least 30°C for Hilly regions.
    • When the normal maximum temperature of a station is less than or equal to 40°C, Heat Wave Departure from normal is 5°C to 6°C and Severe Heat Wave Departure from normal is 7°C or more.

Favorable conditions for Heat wave:

  • Transportation / Prevalence of hot dry air over a region (There should be a region of warm dry air and appropriate flow pattern for transporting hot air over the region)
  • Absence of moisture in the upper atmosphere (As the presence of moisture restricts the temperature rise).
  • The sky should be practically cloudless (To allow maximum insulation over the region).
  • Large amplitude anti-cyclonic flow over the area.

Health Impacts of Heat Waves:

  • The health impacts of Heat Waves typically involve dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and/or heat stroke.
  • Children, the elderly and those with pre-existing morbidities are particularly vulnerable.
  • Vegetable vendors, cab drivers, construction workers, police personnel, road side kiosk operators and mostly weaker sections of the society have to work in the extreme heat to make their ends meet and are extremely vulnerable to the adverse impacts of heat waves such as dehydration, heat and sun strokes.

Reasons why India is experiencing more heat waves are:

  • Magnified effect of paved and concrete surfaces in urban areasand a lack of tree cover.
  • Urban heat island effectscan make ambient temperatures feel 3 to 4 degrees more than what they are.
  • More heat waves were expected as globally temperatureshad risen by an average 0.8 degrees in the past 100 years. Night-time temperatures are rising too.
  • Higher daily peak temperaturesand longer, more intense heat waves are becomingly increasingly frequent globally due to climate change.
  • High intensity of UV raysin medium-high heat wave zone.

Major initiatives of the Government towards combating climate change:

  • National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC): The Action plan covers eight major missions on Solar, Enhanced Energy Efficiency, Sustainable Habitat, Water, Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem, Green India, Sustainable Agriculture and Strategic Knowledge on Climate Change.
  • International Solar Alliance (ISA)
  • State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC)
  • FAME Scheme for E-mobility: Union Government in April 2015 launched Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicles (FAME) – India Scheme with an aim to boost sales of eco-friendly vehicles in the country. It is a part of the National Mission for Electric Mobility.
  • Atal Mission for Rejuvenation & Urban Transformation (AMRUT) for Smart Cities.
  • Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana: The scheme provides LPG connections to five crore below-poverty-line beneficiaries. The connections are given in the name of women beneficiaries to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and conventional fuel like cow dung for cooking food, thus reducing air pollution.
  • UJALA scheme: The scheme was launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January 2015 with a target of replacing 77 crore incandescent lamps with LED bulbs.
  • Swachh Bharat Mission

Way Forward

  • Localized Climate risk atlas at national scale level.
  • We have technology but need to work on R and D to reach our targets.
  • Identifying heat hot-spots through appropriate tracking of meteorological data and promoting timely development and implementation of local Heat Action Plans with strategic inter-agency co-ordination, and a response which targets the most vulnerable groups.
  • Review of existing occupational health standards, labour laws and sectoral regulations for worker safety in relation to climatic conditions.
  • Policy intervention and coordination across three sectors health, water and power is necessary.
  • Promotion of traditional adaptation practices, such as staying indoors and wearing comfortable clothes.
  • Popularisation of simple design features such as shaded windows, underground water storage tanks and insulating housing materials.
  • Advance implementation of local Heat Action Plans, plus effective inter-agency coordination is a vital response which the government can deploy in order to protect vulnerable groups.
  • Democratization of climate data.
  • The real challenge is to get other developed countries on board.
  • Ban on single use plastic will be one of the game changer
  • We should not treat climate change as an environmental problem but need to address it as developmental challenge.
  • Investment in R&D is needed to spur innovations in sustainable climate-friendly and climate-proof productivity, and the private sector can help on this.
  • India’s ambitious targets to cut carbon emissions require strong political will, meaningful engagements and sustainable plans.
  • Climate finance can prove to be a compelling financial tool to align India’s growth with various climate change measures.
  • All nations, especially the G20 and other major emitters, need to join the net-zero emissions coalition and reinforce their commitments with credible, concrete and enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions and policies before COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland.

SANSAD TV 2-5-24