Power outages in India and Pakistan on Friday worsened the living conditions of millions of residents already overwhelmed by a record heat wave that experts associate with climate change. Unusually hot March and April drove up energy demand in India, and especially in Pakistan, so power plants are now running out of coal to meet demand.
Several Pakistani cities suffered up to eight hours of power outages a day last week, while rural areas suffered power outages half the day. “There is an electricity crisis and load reduction across the country,” said Energy Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan, citing shortages and “technical faults”.
From Saturday the temperatures will reach 49-52 ° C #Pakistan & i #India for at least 4 affiliate days.
These temperatures, close to records, have lasted since March 10th. The duration highlights the difficulty. It must be considered, more than the daily values. pic.twitter.com/DFHyrPHPYD
– Dr. Serge Zaka (Dr. Zarge) (@SergeZaka) May 3, 2022
However, temperatures are expected to be 8 degrees above the normal of the season in parts of Pakistan, where they peak with 48 degrees in parts of rural Sindh on Wednesday, according to the Pakistan Meteorological Society.
Researchers say that due to climate change, heat waves are more frequent but also more severe. In the Indian megalopolis in New Delhi, where the temperature on Friday reached 43.5 ° C, the authorities estimate that there is “less than a day’s coal” in stock in many power plants.
“The situation across India is dire,” said Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi’s prime minister, who warned of possible cuts to hospitals and the capital’s metro.
India has even canceled some passenger trains to speed up the supply of coal to power plants, according to Bloomberg News.
In fact, coal reserves at Indian power plants have fallen by almost 17% since the beginning of April, falling to just under a third of the required levels, according to the same source.
Forests in ashes
In Calcutta in eastern India, after a series of diseases in public transport, sugar water was distributed to the passengers. “Without rain for more than 57 days, Kolkata is in the grip of the longest drought of this millennium,” said Sanjit Bandyopadhyay of the Regional Meteorological Center.
At this time of year, in the highlands of the state of Himachal Pradesh, rain, hail and even snow usually fall, but for two months there is not a drop of water and temperatures break records.
As a result, hundreds of fires have reduced pine forests to ashes, especially around Dharamsala, the city where the Dalai Lama lives. “Most of these fires are land fires that are spreading through the pine forests, which are the most vulnerable to fires,” State Forest Chief Ajay Srivastava told AFP. “Teams of firefighters are working hard to put out these fires and also to save wildlife,” he added, adding that emergency services had to ask for help from local residents.
For Muslims who observe Ramadan, the heat has made fasting painful. As the sun went down, sellers made a thriving trade in Rooh Afza, a pink, sweet elixir that has been popular for generations on the subcontinent to quench its thirst. The heat wave also led to school closures or reduced teaching hours.
In Patna, the state capital of Bihar, sunburn has risen over the past ten days, as has the number of children suffering from fever, vomiting and diarrhea. The authorities ordered the end of the teaching at 10:45 and did not recommend going out in the afternoon.
A plague on the economy, because if “people stay home during the day, we’re struggling to make a living,” sums up a rickshaw driver, Rameshwar Paswan.