Tamil Nadu to declare heat waves as state-specific disaster soon

Minister KKSSR Ramachandran said that the state has taken steps to help the people cope with the heat conditions by establishing water kiosks and creating separate units in government hospitals.
Representative image
Representative image

CHENNAI: Revenue Minister KKSSR Ramachandran on Monday announced that heat wave would be declared as a state-specific disaster soon to enable the state government to take preventive steps for the condition as per the rules of the State Disaster Response Fund and offer relief assistance to those who get affected.

Replying to the discussion on demands for grants for the revenue department, the minister said due to climate change, Tamil Nadu faced extreme heat and heat waves in April and during the first two weeks of May. The state has taken steps to help the people cope with the heat conditions by establishing water kiosks and creating separate units in government hospitals to treat people affected by heat waves.

Official sources said a notification for declaring heat waves as a disaster will be issued soon as per the guidelines of the Government of India. Only when heat waves are declared as a state-specific disaster, the Tamil Nadu government can provide relief assistance to those affected by them. During summer, funds can also be allocated to the health department from the SDRF for providing ORS at hospitals and setting up water pandals.

‘59% TN people exposed to over 35 0C weather’

Some states, which have declared heat waves as state-specific disaster, have issued norms for relief assistance for heat waves, sunstroke and sunburn. The relief assistance includes solatium to the families of persons who died due to heat waves and those who suffered injuries, and ex gratia for loss of eyesight due to heat, etc.

Recently, the State Planning Commission submitted a report to the state government titled “Beating the Heat: Tamil Nadu Heat Mitigation Strategy’’. The report said Madurai, Chennai and Thoothukudi are the districts most affected by extreme heat, which has increased between 2003 and 2023, with night temperatures almost on a par with daytime temperatures.

The report pointed out that nearly 59% of state’s population is exposed to temperatures above 35°C and there is an urgent need to build heat resilience in the state as climate change-driven heat is only expected to intensify. As per India Meteorological Department, heat waves generally occur over plains of northwest India, Central, East and north Peninsular India from March to June. It covers Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Sometimes it occurs over TN and Kerala too. So, most states are prone to heat waves, IMD said.

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