Natural Disasters

Blazing India: Summer disrupts life in Madhya Pradesh’s Khargone

Farmers, daily wagers and vendors suffer even as many rush to hospital with heat-related illnesses

By Manish Chandra Mishra
Published: Thursday 04 July 2019
Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images Photo: Getty Images

The town of Khargone — ranked by one weather website as the hottest in the world — has suffered this summer, like the previous one, due to the extreme heat.

This year, in April-end, mercury levels in the town rose to 47.5° Celsius. The heat wave continued into mid-June and is still continuing.  

“There are three reasons behind this extreme heat in Khargone. The first is a cyclonic circulation that has developed in the area. As this area is situated near Rajasthan, the heatwaves coming from that area are also responsible. And the last reason is of course climate change,” DP Dubey, a senior scientist and former director of the Regional Meteorological Centre, Bhopal, told Down To Earth.

Birds and animals are the most vulnerable in this season as heat strokes have been attributed to be the cause of deaths in birds, said Dubey. Similarly, the heat has a significant impact on the evaporation of surface water and from trees, he said.

Suffering populace

Daily wage labourers, street vendors and farmers in Khargone suffer the most as they work in the sun during the day. The summer also brings a severe water crisis in the area and as a result, women have to walk three to four kilometres to fetch water in the hot sun.

“Bringing water from a pit five km away from the village has become a daily routine. Some people of the village have bought donkeys to carry water but many women have to carry water on their heads,” Jhinki Bai, a resident of Ambagaon village of Khargone district, said.

Jhinki Bai suffered from heat stroke and was not able to work for many days in May.

Farmers of the region are facing losses in two ways — loss of health and loss of crop — due to the extreme weather conditions.

“I had cultivated cotton in four acres but due to lack of water for irrigation, I would lose 50 per cent yield. Last year, I got 48 quintals of cotton from my crop but I do not expect more than 25 quintals this year,” Dharam Das Lohare, a resident of Mordar village of Khargone, said.

He added: “There are 17 people in my family including my brothers. Almost every one fell ill at least once in this season. One cannot go out during the day but for farmers, it does not matter how harsh the weather is. We have to go out.”

Bharat Waskale, who cultivated muesli in his field, has also incurred losses due to the heatwave. Another farmer Bhim More has a lost crop of chilies due to the heatwave.

Shila Waskale from Dhupi village of Khargone who works as an Anganwadi worker, faces the heatwave every day, often suffering from heat stroke.

“I have to roam in the village mostly in such heat to meet the parents of children. I have suffered heat stroke two or three times this season. Despite the change in time of the Anganwadi, kids have to stay at home these days. The weather is so harsh that heat continues till midnight and begins early in the morning.”

Rise in number of patients

The Khagone district hospital and around seven other private hospitals in the town witnessed the effects of extreme heat in terms of increase in the number of patients.

The district hospital treated around 200 patients during this period who suffered from severe dysentery and diarrhea. On an average, 300 people reached the hospital daily, with summer-related complaints.

“This time the heatwave continued for a longer period and as a result, we saw an increase in the number of patients suffering because of it. I observed that due to excessive heat people are losing control on their behaviour as complaints of irritation and anger are on the rise,” said Ramesh Neema, chief medical and health officer.

However, Neema is satisfied with the arrangement made by the government for awareness and control of summer-related diseases.

“We got information about summer-related diseases and some water-borne epidemic diseases from ward 3, 4 and 5. But the situation is under control after prompt efforts by the department,” he said.

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