In the wake of recurring deadly heat waves plaguing Indian cities, Greenpeace activists took a stand against the delay in implementing the Heatwave Action Plan (HAP) by the Delhi government. Holding a demonstration outside the State Secretariat, activists unfurled a banner reading, “Delhi is Burning – Where is the Heat Action Plan,” to draw attention to the pressing need for immediate action. Greenpeace India, alongside the Heatwave Action Coalition, also released a letter addressed to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, demanding the public consultation on the HAP draft before the end of June 2023, stressing the plan’s crucial role in protecting Delhi and its citizens from the detrimental impacts of extreme heat.
Since April 2023, Greenpeace India and the Heatwave Action Coalition have been urging Chief Minister Kejriwal to release the Delhi Heat Action Plan, which aims to combat the adverse effects of heatwaves in the city. However, despite the urgency, no action has been taken on the matter to date. During this period, Delhi has experienced 18 days with temperatures surpassing 40°Celsius, a situation that poses life-threatening risks, particularly for vulnerable individuals lacking adequate support mechanisms.
“The absence of a heatwave action plan, despite the national guidelines, highlights a concerning lack of action from the Delhi government. With a population of over 18 million, including 11 million vulnerable citizens in the informal sector, it is imperative for the Delhi government to release the Heatwave Action Plan without any delay. Protecting the health and livelihood of people from the devastating effects of heatwaves should be a top priority,” emphasizes Avinash Chanchal, Campaign Manager at Greenpeace India.
According to a recent report by United in Science, coordinated by the World Meteorological Organisation, Delhi experienced five heatwaves between March and May 2022, resulting in severe socioeconomic consequences and a public health crisis. This year, the impact of heatwaves continues to devastate the country, with Uttar Pradesh reporting 54 deaths and Bihar recording 42 deaths in just three days. Experts, including the Indian Meteorological Department, have issued warnings that the upcoming months will likely see above-average temperatures, with a high probability of heatwaves hitting central and northwestern India.
“In Delhi, over 60 percent of residents live in informal settlements, rendering them more vulnerable to heatwaves. This includes migrant laborers who have fled climate-related impacts in their home regions, only to become victims of another climate disaster in Delhi. Additionally, heatwaves pose significant risks to the elderly population and newborns. With the El Niño effect expected to bring even more extreme summers starting from mid-2023, swift action is necessary to prevent further losses,” states Avani Goel, an activist with Greenpeace India.
Greenpeace India has put forth a comprehensive set of ten actionable demands to be included in the Delhi Heatwave Action Plan. These demands encompass the timely release of the HAP, integration of scientific climate projections based on local data from Delhi, establishment of a robust early warning system, support for the most vulnerable populations, policy integration and central funding, legally-binding mechanisms, provision of urgent healthcare for heatstroke victims, and the inclusion of nature-based cooling systems.
The citizens of Delhi eagerly await the response from the Delhi government and the implementation of an effective Heatwave Action Plan to protect them from the increasingly dangerous impacts of heatwaves.
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