Extreme heat causing health woes across India

STORY: A sweltering heatwave is sweeping across parts of northern India, including capital New Delhi, causing water shortages, power cuts and heat strokes.

After subsiding the past few days, temperatures in New Delhi have returned to dangerously hot levels.

Those living in the slums have been impacted the worst, having to spend hours waiting for water trucks because they lack a piped water supply in their houses.

Gopal Solanki, a resident of an urban slum in New Delhi, explained the situation to Reuters:

"There is an obvious shortage of water due to the heat. The consumption of water increases - there is a rise in usage but the supply of the water is very limited and that creates difficulties. If a family normally consumes 100 litres of water, during the summers this usage goes up to 200 litres. However, the availability remains at 100 litres. So, this leads to competition for the extra 100 litres. This scarcity irritates people and triggers brawls amongst them. It changes their friendly behaviour into an unpleasant and aggressive one."

India suffered its hottest March in more than 100 years and April saw many places, including New Delhi, recording unusually high temperatures in excess of 100 degrees on most days.

More than two dozen people have died of suspected heat strokes since late March, and power demand has hit multi-year highs.

Chandni Singh, a climate scientist and researcher at Indian Institute for Human Settlements, said extreme heat over a sustained period can have a severely detrimental impact on health..

“...There's increased heat stress. There's also chances of heat stroke, and then of course, at the worst, it can lead to human mortality or deaths if we, if we see extreme heat for a long period of time...it's really going to change the kind of vector-borne diseases like malaria, like dengue that we see.”

The National Disaster Management Authority has categorized 23 of India's 28 states and some 100 cities and districts as being at risk of suffering extreme heat.

Nineteen states have already made their own heat-action plans and others are working on them.

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