Scorching Sirens: The Heatwave Hardships in Pune

With the most extreme heatwaves on the doorstep, the people of Pune face various issues that threaten the water reserves of the city, health and daily life of all.
Scorching Sirens: The Heatwave Hardships in Pune
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India is in hot waters - extreme heat and rising temperatures signal a difficult summer ahead. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has been issuing alerts on the intense weather throughout the country, cautioning people about the situation. Heatwaves, the prolonged periods of extremely hot weather, have been predicted to occur for more days in the summer of 2024 as per IMD. With 2024 expected to outdo the hottest year on record (i.e. 2023), tensions arise for the masses as intense summers lie ahead. 

Like other parts of the country, heat has also engulfed the city of Pune, Maharashtra. Pune has recorded temperatures exceeding the normal levels in several areas of the city, with Lavale recording the highest temperature. Nights show no respite for the people of Pune as nighttime temperatures keep rising. The El Niño phenomenon would further create a hot scenario for Maharashtra in the coming months. 

In this case, what are the heatwaves expected to bring for Pune? What are the challenges that Pune will have to face in the extreme heatwave cycles of this summer?

A major water crisis awaits

If you are a resident of Pune, water shortages have been one of the constant woes you have experienced every summer. However, conditions seem to be worsening this summer for Pune’s water situation. Disruptions in the water supply are likely to happen and are already happening in various areas, raising doubts over sufficient water reserves present for the city. Tanker services are being availed massively at higher rates owing to the rising demands. Damages to water pipes due to road repairs and excavations are further disrupting the smooth supply of water. 

A surge of complaints is coming from areas like Pashan, Hinjewadi Baner, Balewadi, Sus, Mhalunge and Lohegaon as water shortage brings inconveniences to the residents of these areas. There is 8% less reserve of drinking water in state reservoirs this year as compared to the previous year. Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has denied any plans for water supply cuts and has been ensuring arrangements for solving the city’s water woes. Light rains are expected in between the heat spells, which may bring a breather from the heat to the people in Pune. 

Heated risks loom on health

Heatwaves bring with them a wave of dangers that could adversely affect the health of the people. Heat-related illnesses are becoming rampant day by day. Last year, a massive number of heat stroke cases were recorded, bringing threats to the current summer cycle. In a recent study, Pune recorded the strongest association between heatwave characteristics and mortality. Last year, 3,191 people from Pune suffered from heat-related illnesses and 22 deaths from heat stroke were confirmed between March and July 2023. The vulnerable population - children, senior citizens, severely ill people, outdoor workers and labourers, pregnant women, etc. require special attention in the extreme weather conditions of Pune.  

Voting in the heat

The Lok Sabha elections are the much anticipated national event of this summer season. With the expected large-scale rallies and public gatherings for the same, it is also essential to pay special attention to the impending risks of heatwaves in the elections. Planning for any election-based events needs to include precautions from heatwaves in the agenda. Hydration stations and shades in the polling booth are a must in the scorching heat. Emergency medical services should be ensured on the ground in case of an urgent case of dehydration or heat stroke. 

Dos and Don’ts

The heatwaves are here to stay for long and so, Punekars must equip themselves to beat the heat. The Pune Municipal Corporation’s health department has released detailed guides for the people to not only understand the situation but also give measures for protection against heat. PMC has specifically elaborated on taking care of health in its advisory on combating heatwave.

Avoiding exposure to heat as much as possible should be the priority of every person. Hydration, use of protective gear like hats and umbrellas, eating well and wearing loose, light-coloured outfits are some preventive measures suggested by PMC to overcome the challenges of heatwaves. Special attention should be paid to the vulnerable population who are susceptible to heatstroke. Equipping oneself with proper aids in case of long working hours, travelling, and driving can help in avoiding the hazards of heatwave. Immediate medical help should be sought in case of any symptoms of heat-related illnesses. 

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