India will see an intense heatwave in April-June: IMD

Regions such as Rajasthan, Gujarat, Saurashtra-Kutch, Maharashtra, north Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Odisha are expected to record extremely high day temperatures and heatwaves

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued a warning of an intense heatwave sweeping across the country from April to June, with the central and western peninsular regions expected to bear the brunt. This period coincides with the Lok Sabha polls and Assembly elections in four states, raising concerns about the potential impact on voter turnout.

As India prepares for the polls, the IMD anticipates a rise in heatwaves across most parts of the country. The weather agency announced on 1 April that the country is set to experience extreme heat this year, particularly in the central and western peninsular regions. The IMD’s press release stated that above-normal maximum temperatures are likely in most parts of the country in April 2024.

This forecast has sparked discussions about how the extreme temperatures might affect voter turnout in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections and the Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh, and Sikkim.

The IMD predicts heatwaves lasting between 10 to 20 days, a significant increase from the usual four to eight days, from April to June. Regions such as Rajasthan, Gujarat, Saurashtra-Kutch, Maharashtra, north Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Odisha are expected to record extremely high day temperatures and heatwaves this summer.

Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, director general of the IMD, was quoted by the Indian Express as saying that most regions in the country will experience above-normal maximum temperatures during the summer season this year. However, regions like Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, northern Odisha, adjoining Gangetic West Bengal, and eastern India could experience normal or below-normal temperatures.

 intense heatwave
Image : India Tv news

Extreme temperatures may impact voter turnout during elections

There are concerns that the extreme temperatures could affect voter turnout, particularly in regions where the heatwave is expected to be severe. Kiren Rijiju, Union Minister for Earth Sciences, urged stakeholders to take precautionary measures in light of the IMD’s warning. He emphasized the need for India to prepare in advance, given that it is the most populous country in the world and faces extreme weather conditions.

India will hold Lok Sabha elections in seven phases from 19 April to 1 June, with the counting of votes scheduled for 4 June. More than 97 crore voters, including 49.7 crore males and 47.1 crore females, are eligible to vote at 10.5 lakh polling booths set up across the 543 Lok Sabha constituencies.

Studies have indicated that heatwaves are expected to break all previous records this summer during the electoral process. Political observers have warned that prolonged heatwaves may affect voter turnout, posing a challenge for political parties to bring voters to the booths.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has implemented various measures to ensure voter safety during the harsh summer heat. Last month, the ECI issued an advisory to Chief Electoral Officers (CEOs) to mitigate the impact of heatwaves on voters. The ECI has instructed that polling booths be set up on the ground floor of a building for the convenience of elderly and disabled voters, with separate entrances and exits. Facilities such as drinking water, shade, and medical kits must be available at polling stations.

Voters can also take their own steps to stay safe when they are outside during the intense heat. They can carry refreshing drinks like nimbu pani to keep themselves hydrated while waiting for their turn to cast their vote. They are advised to stay covered, avoid wearing tight-fitting clothes, and use umbrellas to protect themselves from the heat. Voters can try to cast their ballot in the early morning hours and avoid the afternoon time when temperatures are highest.

You might also be interested in – Journalists and key service providers eligible to cast votes via postal ballots in Lok Sabha elections: ECI

Dr. Shubhangi Jha

Avid reader, infrequent writer, evolving

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