On May 19, 2016, India recorded its hottest day ever as the temperature hit 51 degree Celsius, breaking the national and continental heat record. Several hundred people are thought to have died during this year’s heatwave, while the records for past year (2015) too present a grim figure of 2,500 deaths, mainly caused by heatwave and dehydration. It is imperative to note here that 12 of the 15 warmest years in India were during the past 15 years (2001-2015), while the past decade was the warmest decade on record.
As many as 330 million people were reported to be affected by record-breaking drought in India in 2016 with people dying due to heatwave, dehydration and farmers committing suicides (around 5,650 Indian farmers committed suicide in 2014 according to data from the National Crime Records Bureau) for crop failure and distress owing to natural calamities. The effects of climate change on agriculture, in a country where 51 percent earn their livelihood through it, will drive more people into poverty, while at the same time jeopardising its food security.
Over the last decade, the number of extreme weather events in the form of unseasonal rains, droughts, floods and cyclones etc, have increased drastically, resulting in loss of lives, destruction of infrastructure and agricultural yields, ultimately causing huge revenue losses. A look at the number of extreme weather events clearly shows that India is already facing consequences of climate change, especially affecting social development factors such as poverty, infrastructure and economics.
The rate at which the region is witnessing climate-induced changes is alarming. Any further rise in temperature is going to adversely impact the situation of this country’s 1.2 Billion people, eventually making the basic necessities (food, water, shelter, sanitation), basic luxuries of life!
Links and Resources
Grim Statistics on Indian Drought Exposes a Massive Humanitarian Disaster; http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/Grim-Statistics-on-Indian-Drought-Exposes-a-Massive-Humanitarian-Disaster/2016/04/25/article3398758.ece
India’s Deadly Heatwave and Drought; http://blogs.wsj.com/briefly/2016/04/28/indias-deadly-heat-wave-and-drought-the-numbers/
Skid row sums: Poor water, bad toilets cost women dearly; http://www.indiawaterreview.in/Story/Features/skid-row-sums-poor-water-bad-toilets-cost-women-dearly/814/2#.V9tuCvl97IV