Heat Action Plans

Heat Action Plans

News: Recently, the Centre for Policy Research (CPR), one of India's leading public policy think tanks, has released the first critical assessment, stating that most of the Heat Action Plans (HAPs) may not be suited to the risks faced by local populations.

What are Heatwaves?
 A heatwave is a period of abnormally high temperatures, a common phenomenon in India during the months of May-June.
 The Heatwave is considered when the maximum temperature of a station reaches at least 40°C for Plains and at least 30°C for Hilly regions.
 In 2016, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) issued comprehensive guidelines to prepare national level key strategies for mitigating the impact of heatwaves.

What are HAPs?
 HAPs are the primary policy response to economically damaging and life-threatening heat waves.
 HAPs are documents prepared at the state, district and city levels for taking short-term actions to limit the number of human deaths and other adverse impacts of heat waves and further long- term actions to prepare for future heat waves based on the data and analysis of previous heat waves.
 Short term actions can include alerting people to heat waves and coordinating various departments such as healthcare and agriculture.
 Long-term actions can include infrastructural changes such as cool roofs, increase in green cover and water harvesting structures.

Key Findings:
 Extreme heat poses an unprecedented challenge to health and productivity. Landmark heatwaves (1998, 2015, 2022) have led to large death tolls, economic damage by reducing labor productivity, reducing water availability etc.
 By 2050, as many as 24 urban centers are projected to breach average summertime highs of at least 35 degrees Celsius, disproportionately impacting economically weaker sections.
 Most HAPs are not built for local contexts. They generally focus on extreme dry heat and ignore the threats posed by humid heat and warm nights.
 Most HAPs adopt national heatwave thresholds that may not be suited to the risks faced by local populations. Only 10 out of 37 HAPs seem to have locally specified temperature thresholds.
 Only three of 37 HAPs identify funding sources. Eight HAPs ask implementing departments to self-allocate resources, indicating a serious funding constraint.
 HAPs have weak legal foundations. None of the HAPs reviewed indicates the legal sources of their authority. This reduces bureaucratic incentives to prioritize and comply with HAPs instructions.
 India is one of the most exposed and vulnerable countries to heat.

Key recommendations:
 There is a need for the world to reduce emissions in the next two decades to prevent warm temperatures from reaching 1.5° C.
 HAPs have to identify sources of financing, either from new funds or by combining actions with existing national and state policies and set up rigorous independent evaluations as a basis for constant improvement.
 Without implementation-oriented HAPs, India's poorest will continue to suffer from extreme heat, paying with both their health and incomes.

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