Since late March, India’s western state of Maharashtra has registered 25 deaths from heatstroke, the highest death toll in the past five years. Scientists linked extreme temperatures to climate change. Many of the deaths in Maharashtra occurred in the more rural areas of India’s most prosperous state. Scientists also say that more than a billion people in India and Pakistan were vulnerable to the deadly heat. Although the cause of death is not definitive, Pradeep Awate, a Maharashtra health official, told a news agency, “These are suspected heatstroke deaths,”
India being second to Ukraine when it comes to Wheat farming, is projected to shrivel this year’s crop after five consecutive years of record harvests. Cashing in on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, India exported a record 7.85 million tonnes in the fiscal year to March.
As temperatures continue to rise, so does the need for power. However, due to a range of reasons for the power shortage, generating companies are unable to access the number of certain power areas is demanding; the government is pleading with them to increase coal imports.
According to a power ministry letter, India has asked state and private sector utilities to ensure the delivery of 19 million tonnes of coal from overseas by the end of June, highlighting an urgency to secure supplies in an already struggling market amid increasing blackouts. Residents of northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province said that on some days, the power was out for between 10 and 14 hours a day, giving them few options to cool down.
More than one billion people are at risk of heat-related impacts in the regions of India and Pakistan. For the first time in decades, the countries had gone from winter to summer without the spring season. Civilians say that nothing is helping stop the heat; Subarnapur resident Mohana Mahakur told Reuters, “It is so hot, Fan, air cooler – nothing is working.”
Many parts of India’s north, west, and east saw temperatures surging past 40C last month. According to the India Meteorological Department, this March had the highest recorded temperatures in over a century. The maximum temperature across the country rose to 33.1 degrees Celsius, nearly 1.86 degrees above average.
As the world scrambles to find a country that can grow and export wheat, India is scrambling to find a solution to the ever re-emerging issue of climate change and furthering power shortages while being forced to prepare for an extra hazardous monsoon season. A senior scientist at the India Meteorological Department said on Friday that the heat conditions would persist for at least the next three days but that temperatures would fall after the arrival of monsoons, expected in some parts by May.