Pakistan, India suffers from scorching heatwave

Islamabad/New Delhi, Jun 8 (EFE).- Pakistan and India have been witnessing a heatwave with temperatures reaching around 50 degrees, marking one of the hottest summers in South Asia in more than a century, threatening to cause incalculable damage to their crops and food security.

The cities of Dadu and Sibbi, in the Pakistani provinces of Sindh and Balochistan, respectively, registered highs of 48-degrees Wednesday amid of a heatwave that began on Jun.4, Zaheer Babar, head of Pakistan Meteorological Department, told EFE.

Similar conditions also affect the capital Islamabad, and the provinces of Punjab, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as well as the Kashmir region.

The situation is aggravated for the citizens of Pakistan with power outages of up to eight hours in urban areas of much of the country and eight to 12 hours in rural regions.

Currently, Pakistan produces 21,000 megawatts of electric power despite having a demand of 25,600MW, creating a deficit of 4,600MW, information minister Maryam Aurangzeb said earlier this week.

Although Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s government promised to minimize power outages, the federal cabinet Tuesday approved the reduction of working days for public servants from six to five per week in an attempt to reduce energy consumption.

The cabinet also formed a committee to design a plan to work from home on Fridays for all government and semi-government offices, and encourage an early closing of commercial markets.

“The provinces today have agreed in principal to close markets at 8pm,” Mansoor Ahmed, a spokesperson for the energy ministry, tweeted Wednesday.

In India, the mercury reached around 45-46 degrees Celsius in at least a dozen regions, with no forecast for relief until next week, according to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD).

Although there could be a gradual drop in peak temperatures by 2-3 degrees Celsius in the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra over the next 5 days, it is likely that there will be no significant changes in peak temperatures in the rest of the country, IMD said in its latest forecast.

A recent report by the initiative World Weather Attribtion, which brings together climate experts from various institutions around the world, said that the climate crisis made it 30 times more likely for the devastating early heat in India and Pakistan.

“March was the hottest in India since records began 122 years ago and in Pakistan, the highest worldwide positive temperature anomaly during March was recorded and many individual weather stations recorded monthly all-time highs through March,” said the report, which had compiled data only till the month of March.

Moreover, the dramatic drop in rainfall – which was 62 percent less than normal in Pakistan and 71 percent below normal in India – made conditions favorable for global warming, it added.

The precipitation during this period, which precedes the monsoon season, is essential for agriculture in the region. According to World Weather Attribtion, extreme heat conditions will have devastating consequences for public health and agriculture.

According to its initial data, India could suffer an estimated 10 to 35 percent reduction in crop yields in the states of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab due to the heat wave. EFE


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