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EXTREME WEATHER EVENTS: POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS



  Jul 11, 2024

EXTREME WEATHER EVENTS: POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS



Between March and June 2024, vast regions of North India and the broader Indian subcontinent experienced extreme weather, including severe heatwaves followed by heavy rainfall and flooding. This period saw unprecedented high temperatures, with some areas recording over 50 degrees Celsius. The extreme heat led to significant health issues, including heat-related illnesses and deaths. Public hospitals in New Delhi reported over 250 cases of heat-related deaths, and heat-induced health issues were widespread across the region.

In addition to health impacts, the extreme weather caused severe infrastructural damage. Numerous incidents of infrastructural failures, such as the collapse of airport terminals and bridges, were reported, primarily triggered by bouts of heavy rainfall. The failures highlighted issues of substandard construction quality and potential corruption in public infrastructure projects.

The economic impact was also significant, with many people, especially street vendors and those in labor-intensive jobs, experiencing a decrease in earnings due to the extreme heat. Reports indicated that nearly half of the street vendors surveyed reported a significant drop in business during periods of intense heat.

Policy Recommendations

1. Immediate Notification of Heatwaves as Natural Disasters:
• The National Disaster Management Act, 2005, currently does not include heatwaves as natural disasters. This omission hinders the implementation of effective mitigation strategies. The policy recommendation is to immediately classify heatwaves as natural disasters to enable a standardized response to mitigate the effects on health and livelihoods.

2. State Disaster Response Fund:
• States should utilize up to 10% of the State Disaster Response Fund for local disasters, including heatwaves and lightning. This allocation would enable states to respond more effectively to these extreme weather events.

3. Infrastructural Improvements:
• There is a need for stringent regulations and oversight in construction projects to prevent substandard quality and corruption. Ensuring high-quality materials and adherence to safety standards in civil and municipal infrastructure is crucial to mitigate the impact of extreme weather events.

4. Urban Planning Adjustments:
• Current urban planning guidelines need revision to address the increased frequency of flooding and waterlogging. Proper floodplain zoning and regulation are essential to prevent disasters in flood-prone areas.

5. Public Health Infrastructure:
• Enhancing public health infrastructure to handle the increased burden of heat-related illnesses is necessary. This includes better preparedness and resources for hospitals to manage heatwave impacts.

6. Support for Vulnerable Communities:
• Policies should focus on supporting the most vulnerable populations, including street vendors and the working poor, who are disproportionately affected by extreme weather. This support could include financial assistance, healthcare access, and measures to ensure their safety during extreme weather events.

By implementing these policy recommendations, the government can better address and mitigate the impacts of extreme weather events, ensuring the safety and well-being of its citizens.



SRIRAM’s



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