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To: Amit Shah, Union Home Minister

More than 26,000 deaths! Recognize Heat waves as 'Natural Calamity'

More than 26,000 deaths! Recognize Heat waves as 'Natural Calamity'

1. Include Heat waves as an eligible 'Natural Calamity' in the guidelines for relief assistance/compensation under the National Disaster Response Fund.
2. Direct the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to work with Indian Meteorological Department, to add factors such as humidity and locale specific factors, to IMD's threshold for declaring heat wave.
3. Direct NDMA to work with Union Health Ministry to improve its protocol for reporting and monitoring heat wave related casualties and illnesses.
4. Set a SOP for dealing with intense heat and ensure meticulous implementation of Heat Action Plan 2019 across the more than 15 affected states, for achieving the goal of Zero Heat wave related Mortality.

Why is this important?

The Issue:

Heat waves are a phenomenon of abnormally high temperature conditions, which when goes beyond body’s adaptation capacity, can cause serious health complications and even death. Heat waves annually grip more than 15 states of the country for around two months.

As per the Government figures, from 1992 to 2019, heat waves have caused more than 26,000 deaths across the country. Most of these deaths have been recorded in the states of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Odisha. In 2015, more than 2000 deaths were recorded. To put it in perspective, heat waves account for the third highest number of deaths due to natural events, second only to lightening and earthquakes.

Heat waves can be predicted well in advance, and deaths can be avoided by implementing some simple adaptation measures. In absence of such measures, the outdoor workers like agricultural labourers, coastal community dwellers, and poor without adaptation capacities, face serious heat related health risks, which may even lead to deaths!

Extreme heat may also cause fatal dehydration among livestock and birds. In March 2019, dehydrated birds fell out of sky when Bengaluru temperature hit 37 degrees Celsius.

Every summer, parts of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Delhi, Telangana, and Maharashtra have been burning at 47-51 degrees Celsius. Research shows that heat waves will become harsher and deadlier due to climate change. In some regions like the Chota Nagpur Plateau, blazing summer temperatures may rise beyond the limits of survivability!! Despite such a high number of fatalities and their growing severity, heat waves are not recognized as a 'natural disaster' by the Government.

This not only affects the family of deceased who should get compensation but also obstructs a much needed national coordination to manage this annual disaster, which is experienced by more than 65% population of the country. It also impedes a much needed coordination amongst the Health Department, IMD and Local Governments, that will help in ensuring better preparedness for achieving the goal of Zero Heat wave related Mortality. Heat waves are easily predictable and deaths are avoidable, but if timely steps are not taken, we will keep losing human and animal lives to this 'silent' killer!


Reasons for signing

  • 1 of the factors that enhances heat waves is the heat island effect, which is caused, as one of the factors, by the excessive use of ACs. People who think that ACs is a solution to heat waves & global warming are mistaken, as ACs in fact increase heat outdoors. Thus it is necessary to reduce the use of ACs as much as possible, especially that which is not required.
  • Not to neglect regular calamities / problems amidst the all-pervading, overwhelming Corona.
  • Heatwave must NOT make a gov't "myopic" about impact of humidity together with rising temperature.


2020-05-19 13:42:30 +0530

500 signatures reached

2020-05-13 11:29:51 +0530

100 signatures reached

2020-05-12 12:18:52 +0530

50 signatures reached

2020-05-10 10:19:09 +0530

25 signatures reached

2020-05-08 23:51:21 +0530

10 signatures reached