Bhubaneswar: With the daytime temperature soaring past 35 degree Celsius at several places in Odisha, the state government has issued specific guidelines on how to tackle this summer which is likely to be extremely hot, said official sources.
P K Jena, Special Relief Commissioner (SRC), issued a letter to all district collectors on Wednesday as temperature crossed the 35-degree-Celsius mark in at least nine places across Odisha. The state capital Bhubaneswar recorded 38 degree Celsius, becoming the hottest place in the state for the second consecutive day.
Jena said that a heatwave action plan has been developed by the Odisha Disaster Management Authority delineating the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for different departments, district administrations and others to mitigate the heatwave situation.
The SRC directed the district authorities to take advance steps to identify pockets facing water scarcity and to prepare an action plan for ensuring water supply for drinking and other uses through tankers to those areas.
Directing district administrations to respond to reports of water scarcity immediately, Jena said, "I request you to take immediate steps to put in place all preparedness and precautionary measures at different levels in your districts to meet the possible heatwave situation."
In case schools and educational institutions remain open, extra care has to be taken to ensure the availability of potable water in all schools and colleges. Wherever required, tube wells inside the school campus may be repaired to ensure uninterrupted drinking water supply, the letter urged.
Adequate stock of ORS packets is to be stored in schools, colleges and provided to students and staff requiring the same. Outdoor activities have to be restricted so the students are not exposed to heatwave conditions, the guideline added.
Anganwadi centres will remain open in the morning hours only. Availability of potable water in all AWCs must be checked and ensured, said Jena addressing the district collectors.
All public transport vehicles must carry sufficient potable water and ORS packets to be provided to passengers and staff requiring the same. During severe heatwave conditions, timings of non-air conditioned public transport services may have to be rescheduled so as to avoid their plying during peak heatwave hours.
The timing for engagement of labourers and workmen at worksites may be rescheduled. No work should be executed in peak hours during a heatwave period.
The letter said that on receiving reports regarding death of a person due to sunstroke either at workplace or any other area, the district collector should arrange to conduct immediate joint inquiry of the case by the local revenue officer and the local medical officer to be nominated by Chief District Medical Officers or Sub-Divisional Medical Officer.
"The joint inquiry report with the countersignature of the collector should reach this office within 48 hours of the reported death. This is to ensure by all collectors unfailingly," the SRC said.
Where, upon enquiry, the death is confirmed to have occurred due to sunstroke, immediate steps shall be taken to process the case for sanction and payment of ex-gratia to the bereaved family, it said, adding that the control rooms at the state level and the district level shall function round the clock during the heatwave period.
Besides, during the heatwave period, a Calamity Management Group under the leadership of the collector should review the situation and take relief measures daily. A daily situation report must also be sent by the collector to the office of the SRC, the letter said.
Deputy Special Relief Commissioner Pravat Mohapatra said in the year 1998 heatwave claimed the lives of 2,042 people.
The state government started an awareness drive which reduced the heatwave death toll to 54 in 2016, which further dwindled to 12 the previous year, he added.