Barely a month into summer and the heat coupled with humidity seems to be already taking a toll on people’s daily productivity. Due to climatic change, every year, the summer season tends to get more exhausting and excruciating because of the scorching heat, and the effect seems to be more in Andhra Pradesh which is a heat-prone area.
“March feels like the new May,” says Lakshmikanth Sarma, an exasperated octogenarian complaining about the soaring temperatures.
The weather department has predicted slightly above normal temperatures in the coastal part of the State during these hot months. Come summer and channelising a major part of time, energy, funds and planning for battling the sun becomes a priority area for the government.
The Andhra Pradesh State Disaster Management Authority (APSDMA) goes the whole hog, sending alert messages to departments and individuals on weather warnings. “The heat wave conditions are increasingly alarming in the recent past. The humid conditions in the nine coastal districts of the State add up to the effect of heat creating more human discomfort in these areas,” says K. Kanna Babu, Special Commissioner, Disaster Management.
After the massive heatstroke casualties of 1369 in 2015, the SDMA has been taking a series of proactive measures to mitigate the heat wave effects and it paid. “There is an overall decreasing trend in deaths. For example, for almost similar temperature and humidity conditions in 2017 and 2019, the deaths have reduced from 236 in 2017 to 28 in 2019 and zero deaths in 2020,” informs Mr. Kanna Babu.
He says for the current year also, the department has prepared a heat wave action plan to help stakeholders, policy-makers, administrators, field-level officers and the District Collectors to mitigate the heat effects.
Summer heat also heralds water woes in certain pockets across the State. As far as Vijayawada is concerned, summer has been particularly excruciating for the people living on hilltop areas like Winchipet, Gunadala, Christurajupuram and slum habitations at the tail-end areas of Kandrika, Rajiv Nagar and Rajarajeswaripet. “We do not have a problem of water resource since we have the Krishna river to take care of the water-related needs of people, but distribution must be streamlined,” says Ch. Babu Rao, senior CPI(M) leader who has been on the forefront in the fight to resolve this perennial problem.
“There is no scarcity and we have enough water to fulfil the needs of every section,” clarifies M. Prabhakar Rao, Chief Engineer, Vijayawada Municipal Corporation. In hilly areas, he says small reservoirs have been built and water is pumped from the ground level. “Water woes for residents of these areas is a thing of the past,” he reiterates.
The Krishna district Collector, meanwhile, in a recent meeting with the Rural Water Supply (RWS) Department, reviewed the water scenario and asked the officials to come up with a plan of action to meet the drinking water needs of people in rural pockets in the summer months. He said proposals for taking up works had been prepared and funds released to augment water supply and the same should be completed by March 31.
Doctors insist on following a set of dos and don’ts during the summer. They advise people to drink sufficient water even if they are not thirsty, wear lightweight, light-coloured, loose cotton clothes, cover the head by using a cloth, a hat or an umbrella, avoid direct sunlight, stay indoors as much as possible, keep homes cool by using curtains, shutters or sunshade and open windows only at night.
Take bath in cold water frequently and keep animals in shade and give them plenty of water to drink, are other common suggestions.