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Heat Wave: A look at Govt's precautionary measures as scorching summer scare looms large

For instance, expecting a surge in demand for coal by power plants during the summer, the railways has increased its coal transportation by 11.92 percent in terms of tonnage.

March 10, 2023 / 06:03 PM IST

On March 9 and 10, classes were curtailed at Goa schools so that they could shut by 12 noon due to the heatwave. As per a circular issued by Goa’s Director of Education, Shailesh Sinai Zingade, Goa has been seeing heatwave conditions for two days.

The India Meteorological Department said this is happening because of persistence of certain weather conditions such as “strengthening of easterly winds, clear sky conditions and delay in setting time of sea breeze”.

The maximum temperatures are expected to fall gradually starting March 11.

Weather projections

However, this does not spare Indians from the impending scorching summers that the Met Department has been warning about. The IMD has said that India could experience a rerun of last year's prolonged and intense heatwave from March to May, when the mercury crossed 49 degrees Celsius in some parts of Delhi.

According to the IMD’s seasonal outlook for March to May released on February 28, temperatures are likely to settle above normal from March to May as a whole for most parts of India, barring the southern parts of the country.

Also read: Met Office forecasts heatwave in March-May, above-normal temperature across India

The World Meteorological Organization has also warned of a global rise in temperatures in the backdrop of a transition from La Niña conditions to an El Nino summer later this year.

Load shedding

Meanwhile, a Reuters report has cautioned about dark summer nights ahead with increased risk of power cuts. According to the report, rapid addition of solar farms has helped India avert daytime supply gaps, but a shortage of coal-fired and hydropower capacity risks exposing millions to widespread outages at night. The agency reviewed government data and internal documents and stated that India's power availability in “non-solar hours” this April is expected to be 1.7 percent lower than peak demand. April’s nighttime peak demand is expected to hit 217 GW, up 6.4 percent on the highest levels recorded during the same time last year.

ALSO READ: Govt launches High Price-power trading market and Surplus Power Portal

The Grid Controller of India Ltd (Grid-India) said in February that the “situation is a little stressed”. The news agency further noted that the electricity deficits this summer could be worse than expected, as Grid-India's shortage forecasts were made weeks before the Met Department predicted heat waves between March and May.

Power Ministry steps in

Taking cognizance of the situation, Union Power Minister RK Singh has already directed all stakeholders to take proactive measures to meet rising electricity demand and ensure there’s no load shedding during summer.

Singh chaired a review meeting on March 7 with senior officials from Power, Coal, and Railways ministries on various aspects in a bid to meet high electricity demand in the ensuing summer months.

Apart from asking power companies to ensure there is no load-shedding during the summer months, Singh also asked the Central Electricity Authority to ensure that a fair and transparent mechanism is devised for the allocation of coal to various States/UTs.

As per estimates of the Central Electricity Authority, the peak electricity demand is expected to be 229 GW during April this year. The demand then tapers off as monsoon season picks up from the southern part of the country and covers the whole country over the next 3-4 months.

Railways’ efforts

Expecting a surge in demand for coal by power plants during the summer, the railways has increased its coal transportation by 11.92 percent in terms of tonnage by the end of February.

In February, 426.3 rakes a day have been loaded for powerhouses against 399 rakes a day in February last year, an increase of 27.3 rakes, the national transporter said.

In order to meet the projected demand for rakes by the power sector in the coming fiscal, the railways has taken various steps, including higher induction of coal-carrying wagons. From April last year to January, 7,692 BOXNHL and 1,052 BOBRN wagons have been inducted.

PM Modi reviews situation

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high-level meeting to review preparedness for the hot weather condition in the upcoming summer season, earlier this week.

At the meeting, PM Modi was briefed about the weather forecast for the next few months and on the likelihood of a normal monsoon and their impact on Rabi crops. He was also briefed about the preparedness of medical infrastructure, disasters related to heat, and mitigation measures.

Accordingly, the Food Corporation of India has been asked to take measures to ensure optimal storage of grains in extreme weather conditions, while the IMD has been instructed to prepare daily weather forecasts in a manner that makes predictions easy to interpret and disseminate.

TV news channels and FM radio among other media outlets have been directed to spend a few minutes daily to explain the daily weather forecast so that citizens can take necessary precautions. Hospitals ought to conduct detailed fire audits and organise mock fire drills.

Officials attending the meeting were instructed to incorporate some multimedia lecture sessions in schools to sensitise children on dealing with extreme heat conditions.

Further, protocols and dos and don'ts for hot weather must be prepared in accessible formats, and various other modes of publicity like jingles, films and pamphlets should be issued, the Prime Minister told stakeholders.

(With inputs from agencies)

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