Government ramps up preparedness for heatwaves, forest fires

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) informed the committee that between April and June this year, 10 to 22 excessive heatwave days were recorded in different regions. The IMD has forecast above-normal heatwave conditions over northwest and north-central India for the remainder of June, though the monsoon is expected to be normal or above-normal in most areas.

| Updated: 06 June, 2024 8:46 pm IST

NEW DELHI: With large parts of the country facing severe heatwaves and forest fires, the government has kicked its preparedness efforts into high gear to mitigate the impacts. Union Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba chaired a high-level meeting of the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) on Thursday to review the situation and coordinate the response.

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) informed the committee that between April and June this year, 10 to 22 excessive heatwave days were recorded in different regions. The IMD has forecast above-normal heatwave conditions over northwest and north-central India for the remainder of June, though the monsoon is expected to be normal or above-normal in most areas.

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Addressing the meeting, Gauba stressed the need for states to maintain and augment water supply sources while ensuring regular fire safety audits of schools, hospitals and other institutions. He directed chief secretaries to closely monitor short, medium and long-term preparedness measures.

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) outlined the steps taken since last October, including issuing advisories to states on activating control rooms, enforcing standard operating procedures, ensuring drinking water availability, health facility preparedness and uninterrupted power supply.

On forest fires, the Environment Ministry highlighted its action plan, including dissemination of regular alerts through SMS and emails. The Forest Survey of India has developed the VAN AGNI portal to provide real-time fire alerts to aid states’ response efforts.

Gauba reiterated Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s directive from June 2 to give greater focus to forest fire management through better prevention, preparedness and quick response measures akin to those for floods and other disasters.

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States like Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan briefed the committee on their mitigation efforts. The cabinet secretary assured them of the center’s full support and close coordination to implement timely response actions.

With the heatwave and forest fire season intensifying, the government has clearly signaled its urgency in safeguarding lives and minimizing damage through a concerted, multi-agency response strategy.

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