Call Us Now

+91 9606900005 / 04

For Enquiry

Classifying a Prolonged Summer as a Natural Disaster


Northern India has been enduring the longest series of heatwaves in the past 15 years. In some states, daytime temperatures have consistently exceeded 45°C, while in relatively cooler states, temperatures have been 3°-6°C higher than usual for this time of year. Night temperatures have also remained 3°-6°C above normal, due to the near-absence of moisture and rain.


GS3- Disaster Management

Mains Question:

What has been the effect of heatwaves and delayed monsoons in India? Should prolonged summer be declared as a natural disaster? (10 Marks, 150 Words).


  • Heatwaves are extended periods of extremely hot weather that can have adverse effects on human health, the environment, and the economy.
  • In India, the IMD defines a heatwave based on the following criteria:

Physiography of Regions:

  • Plains: Maximum temperature reaches 40 degrees Celsius or higher at a station.
  • Coastal Areas: Maximum temperature reaches 37 degrees Celsius or higher at a station.
  • Hills: Maximum temperature reaches 30 degrees Celsius or higher at a station.

Based on Departure from Normal Temperature

  • Heat Wave: Departure from normal temperature is between 4.5°C to 6.4°C.
  • Severe Heat Wave: Departure from normal temperature is greater than 6.4°C.

Based on Actual Maximum Temperature:

  • Heat Wave: Declared when the actual maximum temperature is 45°C or higher.
  • Severe Heat Wave: Declared when the actual maximum temperature is 47°C or higher.

A Heat Wave is officially declared if the above criteria are met at least in two stations within a Meteorological subdivision for at least two consecutive days.

More on the Weather Conditions:

  • Additionally, the monsoon has been sluggish. Despite an early start, it has stalled since June 12 and is stuck in central India.
  • Before its onset over Kerala, the India Meteorological Department had predicted ‘normal’ rainfall for June, but has now revised this to ‘below normal,’ indicating an 8% shortfall from the expected 16.69 cm.
  • However, this update does not provide insight into the monsoon’s progress.
  • The normal arrival dates for the monsoon in the northwestern and northern states are between June 25 and July 1.
  • It remains to be seen if the current hiatus will delay these dates further. A prolonged delay could place additional strain on the infrastructure in these states.

Rising Power Demands in Northern States:

  • On June 17, the Power Ministry reported that demand in northern India had surged to 89 GW (89,000 MW), marking the highest single-day demand recorded.
  • To meet this requirement, approximately 25%-30% of the power had to be “imported” from the other four regions — south, west, east, and northeast — and possibly from Bhutan, though specific details were not provided.
  • While the Ministry took credit for meeting the demand, this indirectly highlights the strain on the infrastructure.
  • Northern India’s installed power capacity is 113 GW (113,000 MW), and the need to import power indicates an inability to fully utilize this capacity.
  • On the same day, Delhi’s international airport experienced a half-hour blackout, suggesting that prolonged heatwaves and increased cooling demands will further strain the grid.
  • Additionally, Delhi is facing a severe water crisis. Water pilferage is a common issue, but the heat has increased demand, and Haryana, a crucial water supplier for Delhi, has refused to increase the supply due to its own limitations.


It is crucial that political differences are set aside and that the prolonged summer is addressed holistically by both the Centre and the States as a natural disaster.

July 2024