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India's Heat Action Plans (HAPs)



  Apr 25, 2024

India's Heat Action Plans (HAPs)



1. How does the India Meteorological Department (IMD) define heatwaves?

The IMD defines a heatwave based on the maximum temperature recorded at a station. For the plains, a heatwave occurs when temperatures reach 40°C or more, for coastal areas, 37°C or more, and for hilly regions, 30°C or more. The severity increases with the temperature deviation from the normal range, with a normal heatwave being a 4.5-6.4°C increase, and a severe heatwave being greater than that, or when temperatures exceed 45°C for a heatwave and 47°C for a severe heatwave.

2. What are Heat Action Plans (HAPs) and what do they recommend?

Heat Action Plans are strategic documents developed by states and cities to mitigate the impacts of heatwaves. They typically recommend using forecasts and early warning systems, public education on heat risks, establishing heat shelters and cooling centers, ensuring water availability, and equipping healthcare facilities to handle heat-related illnesses. Long-term measures include urban planning improvements like tree planting, heat-resistant building materials, and cool roofing technologies.

3. Are special interventions needed for vulnerable communities during a heatwave?

Yes, HAPs emphasize protecting vulnerable populations such as the elderly, children, and low-income communities. This includes targeted interventions like ensuring these groups have access to cooling centers, adequate hydration, and information on how to stay safe during extreme heat conditions. Specific strategies may vary based on local socio-demographic factors and existing infrastructure.

4. How do regional variations and socio-economic differences impact heat action plans?

Regional variations such as climate, topography, and local infrastructure necessitate customized HAPs tailored to specific needs and conditions. Socio-economic differences also play a crucial role, as communities vary in their exposure to heat, capacity to respond, and the resources available to them. Recognizing these differences is crucial for effective planning and implementation of heat mitigation strategies.

5. What challenges do HAPs face in effectively addressing heatwave problems?

HAPs face several challenges including:

Local Context: National thresholds for heatwaves may not reflect local conditions. Urban heat islands, roofing materials, and proximity to water bodies can significantly affect local temperatures.

Inconsistent Methods: Variability in the methods used for vulnerability assessments can lead to gaps in planning and response.

Resource Allocation: Effective implementation of HAPs depends on the priorities and capacities of local governments, and often suffers from inadequate budget allocation.

Integration with Broader Plans: For greater efficacy, HAPs need integration with broader urban resilience and climate adaptation strategies.

Focused Long-term Measures: There is a need for more focused planning on nature-based solutions and infrastructure improvements beyond cool roofs to comprehensively address extreme heat.

These FAQs provide a basic understanding of how India is preparing for and responding to heatwaves through Heat Action Plans, highlighting the need for tailored and well-resourced approaches to effectively mitigate the risks associated with increasing temperatures.


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