Friday, August 7, 2015

Heat Wave took 2037 Indian lives in 2015: When will we change our development model?

On 5th August 2015, India’s Union Minister for Science & Technology and Ministry of Earth Sciences, informed to the Parliament startling figures of death due to heat wave this summer. 

2037 people have died.  The details are in the following table.  Worrisome is the fact that all India mean temperature has risen nearly around 0.60 C over the last 110 years.

Details of the Heat Wave/Sun Stroke related deaths in India: Summer 2015:

Number of deaths

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report (2014) highlights that mean surface temperature of the globe has risen by 0.850 ± 0.180 C.  
Using daily maximum temperature data of 103 stations uniformly distributed over the country for the period 1961-2010  from Indian main land during the hot weather season (March to July), it was observed that many areas of the country (north, northwest, central and northeast Peninsula) have experienced more than eight (8) Heat Wave days  on an average per season. The recent decade 2001-2010 happens to be the warmest decade for the country as well as for the globe.

The Union Minister informed that upon prediction of the heat wave conditions by the ESSO-IMD, various State Governments have a system of giving wide publicity of Dos and Don’ts through advertisements in Print and audio-visual media and opening up of drinking water camps at identified places in rural and urban areas to mitigate the impact of heat waves. The schedule of National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme workers is adjusted to avoid exposure to extreme hot weather duration periods.

What however concerns one is that our policy makers don’t learn from all these devastating experiences.  Our development models continue to be environmentally destructive.  Our love for coal fuel power plants, indiscriminate and eco-insensitive urbanization, industrialization that kills forests and water sources in faster speeds than before is dooming the country.

We may keep saying we are nothing in comparison to USA and China in comparison to per capita GHG emissions but such deaths again prove that our development models have failed to integrate climate change adaptation and mitigation in them.  In fact this figure is just what has been recorded and reported.  The real figure and vulnerability is surely to be much more.  Further, this does not take into could the thousands of livestock and wildlife that may have died and/or suffered to the intense heat and related water scarcity.

Time the government gives a serious thought to it and climate change is taken seriously.

It is very unfortunate that the Ministry of Environment is planning to dilute many environmental protection laws only to promote such ecologically destructive development projects.  May reason prevail before it is too late!  Or perhaps, it is already too late…

Ranjan Panda
Convenor, Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO)
Convenor, Combat Climate Change Network, India (CCCNI)
Mahanadi River Waterkeeper (Member, Global Waterkeeper Alliance)

Mob: +91-94370-50103

Tweet @ranjanpanda
Tweet @MahanadiRiver

Skype: ranjan.climatecrusader


  1. You are quite right that total global climate disruption planetary catastrophe can not be avoided without a system change tof the dominant environmentally perverse economics. The 2016 Nicholas stern commission report in 2006 explained be essential perversities of the world economics. In this report economics of climate change and global climate change was described as the greatest and most far reaching market failure ever. It was explained that this market failure was due to the practice of economists to treat social and environmental costs as externalities meaning that they were not costed large global polluters did no pay the costs of their pollution. Another market failure with respect to global climate change is the deferment of environmental costs to future generations. The other glaring example of the world economy fossil fuel buyers that causes the staggering amount of fossil fuel subsidies of amounting to over five trillion dollars a year worldwide according to the IMF.

    1. Thanks Dr. Peter for your comment. I agree with your points and appreciate.

      Best regards,


  2. Thanks for the information on this important issue. Yes, it is almost a common argument that US and China are the big polluters and they do not have moral standing to ask other developing nations to cut down on pollution. Simply taking cover under such statistical numbers will not solve the real issues that even affect the developing countries. It will be naive to think that there can be a consensus on the course of actions on such a complex issue as global warming; yet we must recognize that ignoring the problem will only make matters worse.

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