Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba on March 14 chaired a meeting with secretaries and top officials in multiple Ministries to ascertain the country’s preparedness for the summer season.
Earlier this month, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecast that “above normal” temperatures were likely over northeast, eastern, central and northwest India between March to May. While no “heatwaves” are expected in March, temperatures are likely to be 2-3 degree Celsius above normal in some parts of the Indo-Gangetic Plain and eastern India during the last week of the month. These points were reiterated during Tuesday’s presentation, according to a press release issued by the Press Information Bureau.
Agriculture Ministry officials stated that they were expecting 112.18 metric tonnes of wheat to be produced this year – a new record. An expert committee would monitor and mitigate “terminal heat stress” in wheat. This refers to elevated temperatures damaging the crop during its crucial growth stage. Concerns were raised over the crop this year with February recording record temperatures. Last year, scorching temperatures in March had resulted in wheat output decline.
The Health Ministry said in the meeting that a National Action Plan on heat-related illnesses had described the risks from heat waves, illnesses and guidelines to manage it. States have been advised to review health facility preparedness in terms of essential medicines, intravenous fluids, ice packs, oral rehydration solutions and drinking water.
Forest Ministry officials outlined plans for managing forest fires, creating fire lines and water harvesting structures and using satellite-based warning systems to provide early alerts. Forest fires have been ravaging large parts of Goa in recent weeks.
Power Ministry representatives from Punjab and Rajasthan said they had been advised to increase coal production by captive power plants to ensure consistent electricity supply during the summer.