Kerala continued to wither under strong heat-wave conditions as the India Meteorological Department (IMD) warned of rise in temperatures by two to three degrees Celsius in most districts of the state. Earlier this week, two suspected cases of death due to sunstroke from Kannur and Thiruvananthapuram districts were reported.
Maximum temperatures are ‘very likely to be above normal’ by two to three degrees Celsius in the districts of Kottayam, Kollam, Kozhikode and Thrissur in the next couple of days. Other districts are also expected to experience rise in maximum temperatures throughout this week, the agency predicted.
According to local media reports, over 200 people were affected by sunburn and sunstroke this week, approaching local hospitals for treatment. At least five persons experienced sunburns on Wednesday.
A high-level meeting was convened in the presence of chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan in Thiruvananthapuram to gauge the situation and brief district collectors. Top IAS officers and medical personnel have been directed to provide safe drinking water in areas reporting drought-like conditions. District collectors have been sanctioned Rs 50 lakh each to ensure emergency facilities. The state disaster management authority is evaluating the situation and has already disseminated guidelines to the public on avoiding exposure to direct sunlight.
The state labour department has already directed that no work should be done between 12 noon and 3 pm where workers could be exposed to direct sunlight. While the order has been effectively passed down to the lower levels, reports are still emerging especially of migrant workers being forced to work at construction sites by contractors. The department has warned that violators will be booked in such cases.
The people most affected by the heatwave conditions are workers in the unorganised sector, food delivery agents, reporters and election workers.
Health Minister KK Shylaja, speaking to the press, expressed concern about the high temperatures in the state.
“Compared to northern states, people in Kerala are not attuned to such extreme high temperatures,” she said.
All hospitals at the taluk level have been equipped with necessary facilities and directions to treat patients with sunburn and sunstroke. The minister advised the general public to take government directions seriously, avoid exposure to direct sunlight in the afternoon and drink lots of water and keep the body hydrated at all times. Wearing light-coloured clothes will also help.
The Vellanikkara station of the IMD in Thrissur district recorded the maximum temperature on Wednesday at 39.1 degrees Celsius with the minimum hovering at 26 degrees Celsius. The Punalur station in Kollam district and Kottayam station recorded maximum temperatures of 38.6 degrees Celsius and 38.5 degrees Celsius.