A strong dust storm swept through the Delhi-NCR region on Wednesday evening. The dust storm brought down temperatures in the national capital region, reportedly by as much as 7 degrees within 30 minutes. The Palam observatory recorded the maximum temperature at 43.4 degrees and the minimum temperature at 32.4 degrees.
The dust storm covered Delhi, Gurgaon and Noida in a thick haze, limiting visibility. This affected operations at the IGI Airport for almost 35 minutes and several flights were delayed or diverted.
The temperature in the country's national capital reached it's highest-ever to 48 degrees Celsius on Tuesday. According to drought and heatwave expert at the National Disaster Management Authority, Anup Kumar Srivastava, this is the worst heatwave ever that Delhi has faced. He added that the heatwave was recorded in nine states in 2015, while this year the forecast is 23.
"We have verified 36 deaths due to the heatwave against 25 last year. They are mostly poor labourers who come from rural areas to cities to look for work and live on the roadside," news agency Reuters quoted Srivastava as saying.
Earlier, NDMA predicted that a heat wave would hit the country by mid-March. However, the weather started to turn extreme from mid-May and is expected to continue till mid-June. Other major cities are also struggling due to the temperatures rising above 45 degrees Celsius, Srivastava added.
Previously, India had seen more than 2,000 deaths due to heat wave in 2015. Death count fell over the next few years after public awareness campaigns were conducted in more states, NDMA officials said.
Srivastava said, "We wanted to bring down the number of deaths to single digits this year. But many officials were assigned for election duty (and) that impacted monitoring and awareness activities."
NDMA officials said its suggestion on reducing working hours by 20% during summer was being implemented for government workers under its national rural employment guarantee scheme. However, people working for private employers -- on building sites, farms -- had no such protection, the officials said.
(Edited by Vivek Dubey)