Anger over India's 'poor response' to heatwave crisis.

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Some Indian cities have recorded temperatures approaching nearly 50C (122F)Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Some Indian cities have recorded temperatures approaching nearly 50C (122F)

Papers and pundits say the heatwave which has killed more than 1,100 people needs to be treated as a national disaster.

Temperatures have approached nearly 50C (122F) in some areas of southern, eastern and northern India in the past week.

Most deaths have taken place in the southern states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

Reports say at least 24 people have died from the heat in the eastern states of West Bengal and Orissa.

Officials in the affected states have urged people to stay indoors during the day. Hospitals have also been asked to swiftly treat people affected by the heatwave.

But not many are convinced with these measures.

An article on the FirstPost website says the "heatwave has reached disastrous proportions; but neither the central government nor the state governments have relief plans in place".

"Despite its predictable, periodic incidence and high levels of mortality, governments have done precious little to mitigate its impact on people because obviously they don't care - it's still not considered a natural calamity," it adds.

The website further argues that "it's time to think about heatwave as a natural disaster and put in place both preventive and mitigatory steps".

Agreeing with the view, an article in The Times of India urges the government to "ensure that local health services have the capacity to deliver assistance to the vulnerable groups, especially the old aged and the chronically ill".

Poor are worst affected

India has a huge population of people who earn their wages daily, working as rickshaw pullers, construction workers and farmers.

Analysts say it's very hard to stop such people from working because their families depend on their daily wages.

Image source, EPA
Image caption,
Workers have been urged to stay indoors during the day

The Times of India article suggests that these workers should be allowed to change their work timings.

"In rural areas the focus has to be on rescheduling work timing and reducing direct exposure to the sun... Vulnerable groups should also limit outdoor activities. Building cool rooms close by to provide relief to outdoor workers will also help," it says.

The Scroll website urges state governments to create a warning system to save "precious lives".

"India's current heatwave is predicted... to go on for a few days more, which would lead to hundreds of completely avoidable deaths simply because India's governments do not have any systems in place to warn of heat waves or fight heat illness," it adds.

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