BHUBANESWAR: With the Weather Gods in no mood for mercy, the State Capital shattered meteorological records to report a staggering 45.8 degree Celsius on Monday forcing the Odisha Government to shut down schools till April 20 as blistering conditions prevailed across the districts.
Bhubaneswar did not just emerge as the hottest place in the State, the maximum day temperature was also the highest ever for the month since 1952 when record-keeping was started for the city.
Special Relief Commissioner Pradipta Kumar Mohapatra said the School and Mass Education Department decided to close down the schools - both private and government - following the prediction by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) that similar conditions may continue till April 20 across Odisha.
“It was not Bhubaneswar alone, 16 other places of the State recorded 40 degree-plus temperature on Monday. Since the heat wave conditions are predicted to grip the State for more than a week, the decision to suspend classes in schools was taken,” he told this paper.
However, examinations would be held as per schedule but school managements can change timings to morning hours to provide relief to the students as well as their parents, he said. The CBSE XII examinations which will continue till the third week, though, would continue as per the original timings.
The impact of the heat wave was uniform across the districts on the day. In coastal pockets, the intensity though was stronger compared to interior and western districts. Chandbali, a coastal town in Bhadrak, recorded 44.4 degree C. Balasore too reported 41 degree C on the day. Only Puri, Paradip and Gopalpur managed to escape the Sun’s fury with 30 degree-plus temperature.
Western Odisha, considered the hotplate of the State, experienced sizzling conditions with Balangir, Jharsuguda and Sundargarh recording above 43 degree C. Similar conditions prevailed in northern and southern districts too.
For Bhubaneswar though, it was a pressure cooker feeling as the mercury continued to rise since morning. At 8.30 am, the IMD recorded the temperature at 32 degree which shot to 44 degree over next three hours. At 2.30 pm, the temperature settled at 45.8 degree C, an unprecedented nine degree above normal. With clouds coming in, the temperature finally began to taper off.
With intolerable conditions prevailing, unofficial sunstroke death toll mounted to 19 as three more casualties were reported on the day. So far, four deaths have been investigated but sunstroke has been ruled out as the cause.
The Health and Family Welfare Department asked CDMOs to ensure that dedicated sunstroke wards are readied in district headquarter hospitals. If air-conditioners and coolers are available, the hospitals can make use of them. Life saving drugs must be stocked in adequate volume, Minister Atanu Sabyasachi said. More P2