India staring at longest heatwave in 3 decades (48c or 118.4f)

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

India staring at longest heatwave in 3 decades, monsoon relief unlikely soon

The Capital, which sweltered on its hottest June day in history on Monday (48 degrees Celsius) recorded as maximum temperature of 45.4 degrees Celsius at Palam in spite of a spell of light rain in the morning.

INDIA Updated: Jun 12, 2019 11:10 IST

Chetan Chauhan
Chetan Chauhan
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
heatwave,heatwave conditions,longest heatwave
Noida, India – June 10, 2019: Boys on a two-wheeler cover themselves with a cloth to beat the heat on a summer day, in Noida, India, on Monday, June 10, 2019. (Photo by / Hindustan Times)(Sunil Ghosh /HT Photo/Representative Image )

Nearly two-thirds of India sizzled on Tuesday under a spell of a heatwave that is on course to becoming the longest ever as scalding temperatures killed four train passengers, drained water supplies, and drove thousands of tourists to hill stations already bursting at the seams.

Across large swathes of northern, central and peninsular India, the mercury breached the 45 degree mark, including in Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh, Churu and Bikaner in Rajasthan, Hisar and Bhiwani in Haryana, Patiala in Punjab, and Gwalior and Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh.

The Capital, which sweltered on its hottest June day in history on Monday (48 degrees Celsius) recorded as maximum temperature of 45.4 degrees Celsius at Palam in spite of a spell of light rain in the morning.

Experts warned that monsoon relief was still some time away with the severe cyclonic storm, Vayu, barrelling towards the Gujarat coast and drawing rain clouds from over the sea.

With a heatwave spell stretching 32 days, 2019 has already seen the second-longest spell of scorching temperature ever recorded. If the mercury doesn’t dramatically drop in the next two days, 2019 will become the year with the longest heatwave spell in recorded history — with three weeks to go in June.

In 1988, there were 33 such days, and in 2016, there were 32 such days. A heatwave is defined as when the maximum temperature is at least 40 degree C (plains) and 30 degree C (hills), according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

Also Read | In scorching sun, UP villages without a drop to drink

The searing heat is already leaving people withered. Four elderly passengers on board the Kerala Express died apparently of suffocation and heat at Jhansi, where the mercury has hovered around the 45 degree mark since the beginning of the month. The four people, three of whom died on Monday evening, were part of a 67-member group returning to Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu after visiting Agra and were travelling in non-AC sleeper coaches.

“A team of doctors examined them on board the train at Jhansi; three of them had passed away by then and one passenger was rushed to hospital [who died on Tuesday],” said railway spokesperson Manoj Kumar Singh. He said the cause of death appeared to be heat but the exact cause would be known after a post-mortem examination.

The blazing heatwave is in line with predictions made by a number of scientific studies based on IMD data that show that the intensity of heatwaves is rising. DS Pai, a scientist at IMD, Pune, said their study of long-term heatwave data of 35 meteorological subdivisions showed a threefold increase in heatwaves every year since 1991. “Our observation indicates that the increase was steeper in the last two decades,” he said.

An Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune study added that another impact of long spells of heat was an increase in the number of hot days and nights. An analysis of daily maximum and minimum temperatures of 121 IMD stations distributed across India between 1970 and 2015 showed the frequency of hot days and nights showed a big jump whereas that of cold days and nights dropped sharply. “With climate change, the frequency and intensity of heat waves in India will increase,” S Krishnan, a senior scientist at IITM, said.

In its heatwave bulletins, IMD has pointed out that this year’s hot spell has been amplified by the absence of pre-monsoon showers, the presence of hot and dry winds from western dry zones. However, the heatwave spell is likely to cool down this weekend, the IMD heat forecast on Tuesday said.

In major cities across northern India, the demand for power and water surged even as many sources of water – such as rivers and reservoirs – ran dry. The peak power demand in Delhi broke all records of this season on Monday and touched a high of 6,686 MW, reported the discoms. In the hinterlands, where there are often no secondary sources of water such as tanks and pipes, the situation is worse.

In Sonbhadra district on the eastern tip of Uttar Pradesh, for example, the scorching sun has forced many villagers to dig pits in the riverbed and wait for groundwater to ooze out. As the temperatures rise, the pits will go dry and villagers will have to trek kilometres for a pot of water. Hand pumps often don’t work in these regions because in many pockets, the water level has dipped below 300 feet.

The sweltering heat has driven tens of thousands of people into hill stations that are ill-equipped to handle a rush of such magnitude. Uttarakhand’s Nainital has seen an average of 15,000 to 20,000 tourists arrive daily in a city with a capacity of just 8,000 rooms. Mussoorie, which has 2,000 rooms, has seen 190,030 tourists flood the town since May.

As many as 15,000 vehicles have entered Manali and Shimla on weekends this month, translating to roughly 60,000 people — about a third of the population of these towns. The tourist influx is repeatedly choking all approach roads to the small Himalayan hill stations and causing massive traffic snarls in the mountains. Moreover, the hills have received no respite from the blistering sun — Monday’s maximum temperature for Mussoorie was six degrees above normal at 30.5 degrees Celsius while Dharamsala recording a maximum of 33.8 degrees Celsius.

First Published: Jun 12, 2019 07:16 IST

19 of India’s 25 dirtiest cities are in West Bengal

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

19 of India’s 25 dirtiest cities are in West Bengal, Darjeeling on the list

The cities, which include Darjeeling, Siliguri, Serampore, Madhyamgram, North Barrackpore, Bankura, fared abysmally on all sanitation indicators such as waste collection, open defecation, solid waste processing and disposal

INDIA Updated: Jun 24, 2018 17:56 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
A man cleans garbage along the banks of the river Ganges in Kolkata, India, April 9, 2017.
A man cleans garbage along the banks of the river Ganges in Kolkata, India, April 9, 2017. (REUTERS File Photo)

Nineteen out of the 25 dirtiest cities in India are from West Bengal, with Bhadreshwar in Gujarat at the bottom of the list of 500 cities with a population of over one lakh, a nationwide cleanliness survey by the union housing and urban affairs ministry has found.

The cities, which include Darjeeling, Siliguri, Serampore, Madhyamgram, North Barrackpore, Bankura, fared abysmally on all sanitation indicators such as waste collection, open defecation, solid waste processing and disposal, the survey found.

Three cities each from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are also among the dirtiest, figuring in the bottom of the list.

In all, 4203 urban local bodies were surveyed between January and March and ranked under different categories, based on their population. Besides, for the first time all the cantonment boards, run by the army, were also included in the survey.

West Bengal also fared among the bottom four dirtiest states in the country, followed by Nagaland, Puducherry and Tripura.

Jharkhand is the cleanest state in India followed by Maharashtra and Chattisgarh, according to the report, which was released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Indore on Saturday. Among the cities, Indore is the cleanest — second year in a row — followed by Bhopal and Chandigarh. The PM also gave away the award to the cleanest states and cities at a function. Varanasi, PM Modi’s parliamentary constituency, was ranked 29 among the list of 500 cities. Last year it was ranked 32.

Read: Indore the cleanest city, followed by Bhopal and Chandigarh: Swachh Bharat survey

Cities were ranked on the basis of their performance in six parameters including collection and transportation of municipal solid waste, their processing and disposal, sanitation related progress, innovation and best practices adapted by cities.

A senior ministry official said that West Bengal had not participated in the earlier two cleanliness survey conducted by the ministry in 2016 and 2017.

Subrata Gupta, West Bengal principal secretary (urban affairs and municipal affairs department) said, “I am not aware of any such survey. I have not seen the survey report and won’t be able to comment on it. The state, however, runs its own cleanliness program called Nirmal Bangla as part of which we rank our cities.”

Yamini Aiyar, president and chief executive, Centre for Policy Research, feels that while such data and ranking are useful and important exercise as they act as a periodic check and puts the spotlight on the issue, but the real devil lies in the detail.

“The biggest limitation of such survey is what we do after, to what extent the result is used as a diagnostic tool to address the problem cities are facing. Unfortunately, we have not been able to take the next step, to see to what degree our municipalities have the capacity and technology to process solid waste, etc.”

The urban affairs ministry had last month announced the winners of the 2018 Swachhata Sarvekshan but had not released the list of dirtiest city. A senior ministry official said that over 2700 assessors from Karvy Data management services Limited visited the 4203 Urban Local Bodies as part of the survey, which was completed in 66 days.

Read: Smaller cities better at waste management than bigger ones like Delhi

The methodology involved giving 35 % weightage to service level progress, which included checking if municipalities documents are physically verified to assess whether systems and processes are in place to implement Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban) in the most efficient way, 30% weightage was given to direct observation to ascertain general cleanliness in the cities by making random field visits in different parts of the city and public conveniences covering community/public toilets.

India: Cops Halt Church Prayer Because Hindu Group Alleges Conversion: Democracy, Really?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

In Uttar Pradesh, cops halt church prayer after Hindu group alleges conversion

INDIA Updated: Apr 08, 2017 07:49 IST

Abdul Jadid
Abdul Jadid
Gorakhpur, New Delhi
Yogi Adityanath

People inside the church on Friday. Eleven US nationals were also present in the church. (HT Photo)

Police stopped a prayer attended by more than 150 people, including 11 American tourists, at an Uttar Pradesh church on Friday after the right-wing Hindu Yuva Vahini complained that the event was a cover for religious conversion.The youth group, set up by chief minister Yogi Adityanath in 2002, filed a complaint against Yohannan Adam, the pastor of the church at Dathauli of Maharajganj district.

The organisation accused him of converting Hindus to Christianity, a charge the pastor denied.

“No prior permission was taken before the meeting. We stopped the meet after a complaint was registered. A probe is underway and appropriate action will be taken if the charges are correct,” said police officer Anand Kumar Gupta.

The US tourists were let off after police checked their visas and relevant documents.

“The presence of US nationals indicates that innocent and illiterate Hindus were being converted by the missionaries, who lured them with money to change their religion,” said Krishna Nandan, a Hindu Yuva Vahini leader who surrounded the church with his supporters in the afternoon.

They dispersed after police promised a probe and adequate action, though Nandan was not happy that the Americans were cleared.

The church authorities dismissed the conversion allegations.

“The charges are absolutely baseless. The people were attending a prayer meeting voluntarily. We prayed. Nothing else was done,” pastor Adam said.

The Hindu right wing has been at loggerheads with Christian missionaries, accusing them of converting people through coercion and allurement to their faith.

Several Hindu organisations have conducted ghar wapsi or homecoming of such people, which minority groups say is a couched term for re-conversion.

Earlier this year, Hindu Yuva Vahini activists attacked the Full Gospel Church in Gorakhpur, accusing it of religious conversion.