No respite from searing heat: ‘red’ warning for Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh

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Large parts of India sweltered under a heat wave  with the mercury soaring to 48.8 degrees Celsius in Rajasthan’s Barmer, the highest temperature recorded in the country this year so far.

Official data showed that at least 16 places in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh recorded maximum temperatures of 45 degrees Celsius or above on Thursday.

The brutal heat wave will continue for at least one more week, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

In Rajasthan, Churu logged a high of 47.4 degrees Celsius, Phalodi 47.8 degrees, and Jaisalmer 47.2 degrees. Maximum temperatures settled at 46.6 degrees in Madhya Pradesh’s Guna, 45.9 degrees in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad, 45 degrees in Uttar Pradesh’s Orai, 45.4 degrees each in Punjab’s Bathinda and Haryana’s Sirsa.

However, in Delhi, the maximum temperature dipped slightly on Thursday but remained around a notch above the normal for this time of the year. The IMD said the maximum temperature was recorded 0.8 notch above normal at 41 degrees Celsius.

The Met office issued a ‘red’ warning for Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, and west Uttar Pradesh, emphasising a “very high likelihood” of heat illness and heatstroke in all ages.

The punishing heat is straining power grids and drying up water bodies, triggering drought-like conditions in parts of the country.

According to the Central Water Commission, water storage in 150 major reservoirs in India plunged to their lowest level in five years last week, exacerbating water shortages in many states and significantly affecting hydropower generation.

In the absence of adequate cold-chain infrastructure, extreme heat can cause major damage to fresh produce.