Climate Change

Most heat action plans in India are not suited to local contexts: Study

Indian heat action plans do not take humidity, hot nights and duration of continuous heat into consideration; they are poor at identifying and targeting vulnerable groups

By DTE Staff
Published: Wednesday 29 March 2023

Heat action plans in India have failed to identify vulnerable groups, are underfunded, and have weak legal foundations, says a new report.

The report, titled How Is India Adapting To Heatwaves? An Assessment Of Heat Action Plans With Insights For Transformative Climate Action, assessed 37 heat action plans in Indian states (15), districts (13) and city levels (9) to reach these conclusions.

India has been experiencing unprecedented heat waves due to climate change. In 2015, around 2,500 deaths occurred due to heat waves in India.

Heat action plans (HAP) are supposed to be India’s primary policy response to contain and adapt to these heat waves. Heat action plans propose a variety of preliminary activities and disaster responses across state, district and city government departments to decrease the impact of heat waves.

The report was released on March 27, 2023, by the Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Policy Research (CPR). It found that most of these plans were not built for the local context and are poor at identifying and targeting vulnerable groups. The plans also have weak legal foundations.

Generally, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) declares a heat wave when the maximum temperature is above 40 degrees Celsius for two consecutive days in the plains, above 37 degrees Celsius in the coastal areas and above 30 degrees celsius in the hills and mountains.

The report found that locally defined temperature thresholds were considered only by 10 out of the 37 HAPs. Even among the 10 HAPs with localised temperature thresholds, the report is not sure if factors such as humidity, hot nights and duration of continuous heat were taken into account.

Furthermore, only two of the 37 HAPs carried out vulnerability assessments in the context of heat waves and only 11 of the 37 HAPs discuss funding sources.

CPR recommends that HAPs should localise the heat hazard definitions, should incorporate vulnerability assessments, and should be linked to the disaster management legal structure and environmental governance to better serve its purpose.

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