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Centre asks states to review health facilities to meet heatwave challenges
Rajiv Gauba, Cabinet Secretary chaired a meeting to review preparedness for the ensuing summer and mitigation measures, today. Secretaries of relevant Central Ministries/Departments and Chief Secretaries of States/UTs prone to heat wave conditions were present.
India Meteorological Department (IMD) made a presentation on the global weather phenomena and the temperature outlook for the period from March to May, 2023. Forecast for the second fortnight of March 2023 was also provided.
In its temperature outlook for the period of March to May 2023, IMD informed that above normal maximum temperatures are likely over most parts of North-East, East & Central India and some parts of North-West India. IMD also informed that minimum temperatures are more likely to be above normal over most parts of the country except South Peninsular India, where normal to below normal temperatures are likely.
IMD further informed that no significant heat waves are expected during the remainder of March 2023. However, temperatures could be 2-30 C above normal in some parts of Indo-Gangetic Plains and Eastern India during last week of March.
Secretary, D/o Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare (DoA&FW) informed that the Rabi crop condition is normal as on date and the production of wheat is expected to be about 112.18 MT, the highest ever. He further informed that DoA&FW has constituted an Expert Committee headed by Agriculture Commissioner to monitor and mitigate terminal heat stress in Wheat. Further, Crop Weather Watch Group (CWWG), an inter-Ministerial Committee reviews the crop situation every week.
Secretary, M/o Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) informed that the National Action Plan on Heat Related Illness (NAP-HRI) released by MoHFW in July 2021 outlines the challenges posed by heat wave, heat-related illnesses and their management from primary to tertiary level. He advised the States to review health facility preparedness in terms of essential medicines, intravenous fluids, ice packs, ORS and drinking water. He also stressed the importance of timely dissemination essential IEC/ awareness material, also to be translated to regional languages.
Director General (Forests) [DG(F)], M/o Environment, Forests & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) outlined the action plan and preparedness for forest fire management. These included creation of fire lines and water harvesting structures, control burning and engagement of fire watchers in high fire prone areas by State Forest Departments. He also informed that Forest Survey of India (FSI) has developed a Forest Fire Forecasting System portal named VAN AGNI, which provides pre-fire and real time forest fire alerts.
Home Secretary outlined the efforts made by MHA and NDMA and informed that the National Guidelines for Preparation of Action Plan for Prevention and Management of Heat Waves was issued in 2016 and revised in 2017 & 2019. States have been advised to prepare and implement Heat Action Plans (HAPs) at all levels. Further, awareness programmes would be aired on Doordarshan and All India Radio in March, April and May, 2023. NDMA will also be leading a community sensitization effort through all Social Media platforms.
Secretary, M/o Power emphasised the need to complete all maintenance activities in power plants by March, 2023. He also requested States of Punjab and Rajasthan to augment production of coal by captive power plants. Secretaries in the Departments of Drinking Water & Sanitation, Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation and Animal Husbandry & Dairying outlined the suggested measures related to drinking water, irrigation and fodder.
Cabinet Secretary noted that since a hotter than normal summer is expected in 2023, States & UTs need to be adequately prepared to meet the associated challenges. He noted that Central Ministries/Departments have been closely engaging with the States & UTs to ensure optimal preparedness levels and for implementing timely mitigation measures. He requested Chief Secretaries to review the preparedness for a likely heat wave with the relevant Departmental Secretaries and the District Collectors. Advisories issued by MoHFW and NDMA may be translated into regional languages and disseminated widely. Cabinet Secretary stressed the importance of basic preparations such as repair of hand pumps, fire audit and mock drills. Cabinet Secretary assured the States that Central agencies will continue to closely coordinate with them and will continue to be available for necessary assistance.