BHUBANESWAR: As the relentless heat wave continues to singe large parts of the State, the Odisha Government on Tuesday extended school holidays till April 26.
Earlier on April 11, the Government had shut down the schools for nine days following an advisory from the weather office over the heat wave. With the conditions showing no signs of a let-up, the School and Mass Education Department decided to extend the holidays.
The Government has also sought to know from the Centre if mid-day meal scheme (MDM) can be extended to schools in drought-affected districts of the State during the summer vacation. Although there is a provision for MDM during the vacations in drought-affected areas, the State wants to know if it is compulsory or optional.
“The prevailing conditions are so gruelling that the Department has to take extra precautionary measures for the children if MDM is to be provided during the holidays. Apart from water supply, contingency measures have to be put in place which is why we need a clear direction from the Centre,” sources in the Department said.
The concern of the Department seems justified as the State has witnessed over 11 consecutive heat wave days this month with mercury reaching 46.3 degree Celsius in Titlagarh on Sunday, the highest of the season so far.
The entire State has been in the grip of the heat wave with day temperature soaring three to seven degrees above normal at many places. So far, reports of 53 persons dying allegedly due to sunstroke have been received by the State Government. Not a single case has been confirmed though.
Meanwhile, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted that heat wave is likely to prevail at various parts of the State, with severe heat wave condition at some places, during next seven days.
As many as 17 stations recorded temperature of 42 degree Celsius and above on the day. Of them, 10 places recorded 44 degree-plus day temperature. Sundargarh was the hottest with day temperature of 46 degree Celsius followed by Hirakud (44.6), Jharsuguda (44.5), Bhawanipatna (44.5), Titlagarh (44.5), Sonepur (44.3), Sambalpur (44.2), Angul (44.1), Talcher (44.1) and Balangir (44).
The weather office said strong westerly wind could prevail starting April 21 which will heat up coastal pockets of the State.