Heatwave action plans inadequate: Report

The assessment found that heat action plans are not tailored to suit local conditions, but only contain general recommendations.
Cities face a greater risk from heat due to ‘urban heat island effect’, which makes certain urban areas warmer than their surroundings.
Cities face a greater risk from heat due to ‘urban heat island effect’, which makes certain urban areas warmer than their surroundings.

NEW DELHI: Environment think tank International Forum for Environment, Sustainability and Technology (iFOREST), in its assessment ‘Why Heat Action Plans Failed to Save Lives? A Case Study of Delhi’, questioned the effectiveness of heat mitigation measures.

It also recommended a new ‘heat and cooling action plan’ framework to solve the dual challenges of extreme temperatures and rising cooling demand. Further, it highlighted the need to notify heatwaves as a national disaster.

The assessment found that heat action plans are not tailored to suit local conditions, but only contain general recommendations.

For instance, most measures do not undertake any heat impact assessment to evaluate the cascading impact of heat stress on sectors such as energy, power and water supply, public transport, education, and agriculture, among others, which can further impact human health and livelihoods.

Further, cities face a greater risk from heat due to ‘urban heat island effect’, which makes certain urban areas warmer than their surroundings. However, none of the proposed action plans have specific suggestions for heat hotspots and vulnerable populations.

Moreover, most plans have little indication on funding and departments are expected to self-allocate resources from existing budget. The expensive structural investments and human resource expansions required often remain unimplemented due to non-allocations.

What went wrong in city

The report underlined the gap in Delhi’s heat action plan, saying it was delayed, unprepared and lacked specific measures for heatwave hotspots and vulnerable populations. While other cities have notified heat mitigation measures since 2013, Delhi’s first heat action plan came in 2023.

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