The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Summer turns heat on state

Bhubaneswar, May 2: The state is reeling from a heatwave and, what’s worse, there’s no respite in sight.

The heatwave sweeping across Orissa has reportedly claimed 36 lives even as officials confirm six deaths due to sunstroke. The condition is worse in the western parts where the mercury is hovering around 43°C with a monotonous regularity.

Officials in the revenue and disaster mitigation control department said while 36 possible heat-related deaths have been received from across the state, inquiry reports on 17 have reached the government. Out of these, only six have been confirmed as sunstroke deaths.

Out of six official heatstroke deaths, three have been reported from Ganjam district, while one each has taken place in Kondhmal, Nuapara and Sundargarh districts.

Today, the state recorded a highest day temperature of 43°C at Bhawanipatna in Kalahandi district, while similar figures were recorded at Titlagarh in Bolangir district yesterday. Hirakud recorded 39.5°C and Jharsuguda 39°C.

Last week, the mercury level was hovering above 45°C at Sundargarh (April 26 and 27) and Bolangir (April 28) .The highest temperature of 50.1°C was recorded at Titlagarh in 2003.

Even the officials in the meteorological department here indicate that the heatwave may continue for a few more days.

S.C. Sahoo, director of the meteorology centre, attributed the Northwesterly to the heatwave sweeping western Orissa.

Meanwhile, the state government has prepared an action plan to combat the searing conditions, said state disaster mitigation minister Manmohan Samal.

A three-member high-level committee was constituted comprising the secretaries of rural development, urban development and panchayati raj departments to review the water scarcity situation every week.

A sum of Rs 6.14 crore has been released from the Calamity Relief Fund to the rural development department and Rs 3 crore to the urban development department for repair of defunct tube-wells and sinking new ones to ensure drinking water supply.

Energy department has been provided with Rs 7.5 crore for replacing defunct power transformers.

Officials of the health department have been asked to keep airconditioners and ICUs ready at hospitals for the treatment of sunstroke victims.

Schools have been closed from May 1 for summer vacation, which may be extended if the heatwave conditions continue, official sources said.

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