Cold waves killed more Indians than heat waves since 1980: IMD

There has also been a 506% increase in the number of cold waves in India in this decade

 
By Kiran Pandey
Last Updated: Saturday 28 December 2019
Photo: @sunder_barange / Twitter
Photo: @sunder_barange / Twitter
Photo: @sunder_barange / Twitter

While North India is under the grip of severe 'cold days' and 'cold waves' in 2019, a look at the data provided by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) shows a worrying trend. In 23 of the last 38 years (1980-2018), the human death toll in India due to cold waves was higher than that due to heat waves. 

In 1992, 41 times more lives were lost due to cold waves. Between 2010 and 2018. the trend was somewhat different. In this period, around 4,506 people died due to cold waves while 5,572 died due to heat waves. The notable exception was 2011. That year, human deaths due to cold waves were nearly 60 times more than those due to heat waves.

However, in 2018, the trend reversed again. About 136 people died due to cold waves in comparison to 16 deaths due to heat waves.

 

Year

Human deaths due to  heat waves

Human deaths due to  cold waves

1

1980

156

185

2

1981

33

192

3

1982

16

63

4

1983

187

488

5

1984

58

155

6

1985

142

494

7

1986

156

276

8

1987

87

105

9

1989

43

215

10

1990

2

82

11

1992

114

303

12

1993

30

63

13

1996

20

68

14

1997

21

140

15

1999

119

222

16

2000

55

368

17

2001

56

490

18

2004

117

462

19

2008

111

114

20

2009

216

79

21

2010

242

450

22

2011

12

722

23

2018

16

136

The other shocking statistic that emerged between 2010 and 2018 was a whopping 506 per cent increase in the number of cold waves in India, despite increasing temperatures worldwide due to global warming. 

Severe cold days in the next days: IMD

According to the IMD bulletin released on December 27, 2019, cold to severe cold day conditions are likely to remain over many areas of Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, northern Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh during the next two days. 

The maximum temperatures was markedly below normal (-5.1°C or less) at most places over Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and gangetic West Bengal. 

According to IMD, the maximum temperatures was appreciably below normal (-3.1°C to -5.0°C) at most places over Vidarbha and Chhattisgarh, at many places over Madhya Pradesh and at a few places over Gujarat too.

Along with severe cold days, some pockets in Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, north Rajasthan and Bihar may also experience cold to severe cold waves.

A cold day is defined on the basis of maximum day temperature while a cold wave is defined by looking at minimum temperatures recorded on two consecutive nights.

Wither planning?

The guidelines for Action Plan on Prevention and Management of Heat Wave prepared by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in 2016, were further revised in 2017. In fact, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare too had issued guidelines to deal with heat-related illness. 

In 2019, the government had started working with 23 states and over 100 cities and districts to implement and develop heat action plans in India.

But do the states have plans to deal with cold waves so that human lives can be saved?

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