Navi Mumbai where 12 people died due to sunstroke has no IMD observatory

IMD scientist Sushma Nair told PTI that the observatory was revived in 2017 due to which enough observations are not there to calculate normals

Published - April 17, 2023 05:52 pm IST - Mumbai

Union Home Minister Amit Shah addresses the ‘Maharashtra Bhushan Award’ ceremony, in Navi Mumbai on April 16, 2023.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah addresses the ‘Maharashtra Bhushan Award’ ceremony, in Navi Mumbai on April 16, 2023. | Photo Credit: ANI

Navi Mumbai, the city where 12 people died due to sunstroke after attending an award function, has no observatory of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) on the basis of which local weather alerts can be issued.

On the Maharashtra Government's request, the IMD had forecast that the temperature in Kharghar area of Navi Mumbai, where the function was held on April 16, could reach 34-35 degrees Celsius, based on the data from its Santacruz observatory in neighbouring Mumbai, located 35 km away, MeT officials said.

Also Read: Twenty still hospitalised after heat stroke at Maharashtra Bhushan award event

However, on ground the temperature rose to 38 degrees Celsius. The temperature was recorded by the nearest observatory in Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) in Rabale area of Navi Mumbai. The observatory is operated by the Thane-Belapur Industrial Association.

IMD scientist Sushma Nair told PTI that the observatory was revived in 2017 due to which enough observations are not there to calculate normals.

"If we do not have any observatory near a venue where an event is to take place, our protocol is we issue forecast on the basis of the nearest observatory. In this case, it was the Santacruz observatory," Ms. Nair said.

Unlike Mumbai, its satellite cities do not have a robust meteorological infrastructure.

In Mumbai, the civic body has its own mechanism, apart from the IMD, to get weather data.

The Maharashtra government's culture department had sought weather-related information from the IMD, ahead of the function in Kharghar to confer the 'Maharashtra Bhushan' award on social reformer Appasaheb Dharmadhikari, which was provided to it on April 12.

The event was attended by lakhs of Dharmadhikari's followers, sitting under the scorching sun.

Chief Minister Eknath Shinde's son and Lok Sabha member Shrikant Shinde was also seen attending the event in the sweltering heat with a handkerchief to cover his head.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah, CM Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis were present at the award function.

“We had forecast that the maximum temperature (in Kharghar based on the observatory in Santacruz) will be 34-35 degrees Celsius and the minimum temperature will be 24-25 degrees Celsius. The maximum humidity was predicted to be 65-75% and minimum at 55-65%,” Ms. Nair said.

“The IMD does not have any weather station in that (Navi Mumbai) belt to take the recording. The nearest observatory is at Rabale,” Nair added.

On April 16, the Santacruz observatory recorded 35 degrees Celsius, which was 1.5 degrees Celsius above normal.

She said based on the data available with the Santacruz office, there were no indication of a heatwave.

The IMD declares a heatwave when the temperature is 4.5 degrees Celsius above normal, she said.

While some places in Mumbai recorded slightly above normal temperature on April 16, Marathwada and south central Maharashtra had recorded below normal temperature, she added.

Dileep Mavlankar, Director of the Gandhinagar-based Indian Institute of Public Health, said chances of having a sunstroke do not need the heatwave alone, but high temperature, high humidity and direct contact with sunlight can also contribute to a sunstroke, especially in coastal areas.

Elderly citizens are more vulnerable to sunstroke because of the comorbidities, he said.

Mr. Mavlankar, who was instrumental in developing a heat action plan for Ahmedabad in Gujarat, said the heat index in India is also not provided when weather alerts are issued.

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