Report says 59 per cent of Tamil Nadu exposed to temperatures above 35°C

The report ‘Beating the Heat: Tamil Nadu Heat Mitigation Strategy’ states that the health and well-being of individuals are being affected as the temperature during the night still remains high.
Between 1992 and 2015, heat has caused 24,223 deaths across the country.
Between 1992 and 2015, heat has caused 24,223 deaths across the country.(Photo | Martin Louis, EPS)

CHENNAI: 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, according to a report submitted by the planning commission to the state government recently.

The report also states that nearly 59% of Tamil Nadu’s population is currently 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.

The report ‘Beating the Heat: Tamil Nadu Heat Mitigation Strategy’ states that the health and well-being of individuals are being affected as the temperature during the night still remains high.

“The temperature range in which humans can thrive is established at 25-30°C with 60% humidity. However, in many parts of Tamil Nadu this threshold is being regularly breached, with high temperatures and humidity disrupting lives and livelihoods,” the report states.

The report took inputs from state departments, research institutions, civil society organisations and institutions of national and international expertise. Official sources said key departments were identified to form the Heat Action Network, which in turn has identified three key areas to ensure long-term preparedness towards heat risks: health and wellbeing, socio-ecological systems and resources, and sustained productivity.

The report will support the state government to identify and align policies and interventions addressing heat related issues, sources added.

The report has also proposed implementing cooling solutions to provide effective first-order thermal comfort in indoor and outdoor environments, enhancing liveability across the state.

What is worrying policy makers is that only 9% of Indian households have air conditioning across the country and this demand is projected to increase 20-fold by 2050. This translates into a huge emissions and energy problem.

Between 1992 and 2015, heat has caused 24,223 deaths across the country. Despite these numbers, there had been no national-level strategy or vision to tackle the heat wave as a disaster.

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