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June 25 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm


India’s recent heatwave crisis has sparked a debate about officially recognizing heatwaves as notified disasters under the Disaster Management (DM) Act of 2005.  

This recognition would ensure more focused resources and actions to tackle the devastating impacts of heatwaves, which are periods of abnormally high temperatures occurring during the summer season. 

What are Heatwaves? 

  • A heatwave is a period of unusually high temperatures. 
  • Typically occurs between March and June, sometimes extending to July. 

IMD Criteria for Defining Heatwaves 

Maximum Temperature: 

  • Plains: 40°C or more. 
  • Hilly Regions: 30°C or more. 
  • Coastal Areas: 37°C or more. 

Departure from Normal Maximum Temperature: 

  • Normal max temperature ≤ 40°C: 
  • Heat Wave: +5°C to +6°C. 
  • Severe Heat Wave: Above +7°C. 
  • Normal max temperature > 40°C: 
  • Heat Wave: +4°C to +5°C. 
  • Severe Heat Wave: +6°C or more. 
  • Actual Maximum Temperature: 
  • Heat Wave: Above 45°C. 
  • Severe Heat Wave: Above 47°C. 

Declaration Criteria: 

  • Conditions must be met in at least two stations within a Meteorological sub-division for at least two consecutive days. 

Causes of Heatwaves 

Hot and Dry Air 

  • Large areas of hot and dry air act as heat reservoirs. 
  • Winds transport this hot air to other regions, raising temperatures. 

Absence of Moisture 

  • Dry air allows solar radiation to heat the ground more quickly. 
  • Lack of moisture prevents heat retention, leading to rapid temperature increases. 

Cloudless Skies 

  • Clouds reflect sunlight, reducing surface heating. 
  • Clear skies allow maximum solar radiation, intensifying heat. 

Anticyclonic Flow 

  • Large-scale atmospheric patterns with sinking air that compresses and warms. 
  • This adiabatic warming increases surface temperatures. 

Geographical Considerations 

  • Arid and semi-arid regions, such as Northwest India, are more prone to heatwaves. 
  • Westerly winds can spread heatwaves to other areas. 

Climate Change 

  • Global warming increases the frequency and intensity of heatwaves. 
  • Higher baseline temperatures create favourable conditions for heatwaves. 

Impacts of Heatwaves 


  • Can cause dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. 
  • Symptoms include swelling, fainting, fever, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and excessive sweating. 
  • Severe cases may result in high body temperatures, delirium, seizures, or coma, which can be fatal. 
  • 730 heat-related deaths were reported in 2023 (National Crime Records Bureau). 

Water Resources 

  • Exacerbates water scarcity by drying up water bodies. 
  • Reduces water availability for agriculture and domestic use. 
  • Example: Major reservoirs in southern States filled to only 25% capacity or less. 


  • Increases electricity demand for cooling. 
  • Strains power grids, potentially causing blackouts. 
  • Disrupts economic activities and affects productivity. 

Agriculture and Livestock 

  • Heat stress affects crop growth and yield. 
  • Negatively impacts livestock by disrupting physiological functions and behaviour. 

Wild/Forest Fires 

  • 21.4% of forest areas are vulnerable to forest fires (Forest Survey of India). 

NDMA Guidelines for Heatwaves 

  • Avoid going out between 12:00 noon and 3:00 p.m. 
  • Drink water frequently. 
  • Wear light-colored, loose cotton clothes. 
  • Use protective goggles, an umbrella, or a hat. 
  • Avoid alcohol, tea, coffee, and carbonated drinks. 
  • Avoid high-protein and stale food. 
  • Use ORS and homemade drinks like lassi, torani, lemon water, and buttermilk. 
  • Keep animals in the shade with ample water. 
  • Keep homes cool using curtains and fans, and bathe in cold water. 

Needs and Challenges Related to Heatwaves as a Notified Disaster 

Notified Disasters 

  • Catastrophic events resulting in significant loss of life, property damage, and environmental degradation. 
  • Officially recognized disasters are covered under legal frameworks like the DM Act of 2005. 
  • Currently, 12 categories of disasters are notified, including cyclones, droughts, earthquakes, and floods. 

Financial Assistance 

  • Notified disasters are eligible for financial aid from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) and the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF). 

Challenges in Adding Heatwaves to the DM Act 

  • Finance Commission Reluctance: The 15th Finance Commission permits states to allocate up to 10% of their State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) for local disasters, such as heatwaves. 
  • Financial Implications: Government compensation of Rs 4 lakh for each life lost could become a significant burden due to the high number of heat-related deaths. 
  • Estimating Deaths: Heat-related deaths are often due to exacerbation of pre-existing conditions, complicating accurate cause of death determination. 
  • Potential Fund Exhaustion: SDRF and NDRF allocations may become insufficient if heatwaves are included as notified disasters. 

Need for Notifying Heatwaves as Natural Disasters 

  • Improved Resource Allocation: Unlocks dedicated funding for mitigation strategies, early warning systems, and healthcare preparedness. 
  • Effective Action Plans: Encourages development of comprehensive Heat Action Plans (HAPs) with protocols for public awareness and support for vulnerable populations. 
  • Increased Reporting: More death cases may be reported due to financial incentives. 
  • Rising Intensity and Frequency: Heatwaves are becoming more common and severe. 23 states are vulnerable to heatwaves. 

Heat Action Plan (HAP) 

  • A comprehensive strategy to mitigate health risks associated with extreme heat. 
  • Includes measures to protect vulnerable populations, provide information, and coordinate responses during heatwaves. 
  • Outlines short-term measures (alerts, coordination) and long-term strategies (cool roofs, increased greenery). 
  • First developed in Odisha in 1999 and at the city level in Ahmedabad in 2013. 
  • NDMA and IMD are working with 23 states to develop HAPs. 
  • There is no centralized database, but at least 23 HAPs exist at state and city levels. 

By recognizing heatwaves as notified disasters, India can ensure better preparedness and response to this escalating threat, safeguarding lives and resources. 

Mains Question: 

  1. Discuss the necessity and challenges of recognizing heatwaves as notified disasters under the Disaster Management Act of 2005 in India. How would such a recognition impact resource allocation and disaster preparedness? (150 WORDS)


June 25
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
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