India Records Highest Temperature Ever As Drought Drives Despair
21 May, 2016
India recorded its hottest day since records began on Thursday amid a scorching heatwave. The city of Phalodi in Rajasthan state recorded 51 degrees Celsius (123.8 degrees F) beating the nation's previous record of 50.6 Celsius set in 1956.
“Yesterday (Thursday) was the hottest temperature ever recorded in the country ... 51C in Phalodi,” said BP Yadav, a director of India’s meteorological department, on Friday.
Temperatures in northern India regularly hit the high 40s in May and June – the hottest months of the year – but topping 50C is unusual.
The record for India is thought to be 50.6C (123F), recorded in 1956 in the northern town of Alwar.
Murari Lal Thanvi, an eyewitness in Phalodi, told the BBC he had struggled to stay outdoors on Friday.
"Even my mobile phone gave up and stopped working when I was trying to take pictures today," he said.
"I was able to switch my mobile phone on after putting a wet cloth on it for about 20-25 minutes."
The weather office has issued warnings of "severe heat wave" conditions across large parts of India's northern and western states through the weekend.
India declares a heatwave when the maximum temperature hits 45C, or five degrees higher than the average for the area in previous years.
Many areas are experiencing severe heat waves and state governments estimate more than 370 people killed so far.
And relief isn't coming soon.
According to Laxman Singh Rathore, director general of the IMD, look to climate change for the cause in the increasing temperatures. "It has been observed that since 2001, places in northern India, especially in Rajasthan, are witnessing a rising temperature trend every year. The main reason is the excessive use of energy and emission of carbon dioxide. Factors like urbanization and industrialization too have added to the global warming phenomenon," he stated.
Weeks of high temperatures have "also led to acute water shortage in many areas of central and western India which has seen water riots, government-monitored rationing and armed guards at reservoirs," the Hindustan Times reports.
There is a prolonged drought as well, withering crops and sprouting hopelessness in farmers. Seven states are declared as drought affected.