Calcutta completed a hat-trick of 40-plus temperatures on Sunday to notch up the record for the hottest heat streak in April this decade with no sign of immediate relief on the horizon.
There was some respite on on the power front with demand much lower on Sunday. Power cuts in and around the city were curtailed to around 30 minutes, while the rest of the state faced phased power cuts adding up to three hours.
The Celsius climbed down to 40.2 from 41 degrees in Dum Dum and to 38.9 from 40.1 degrees in Alipore, but experts said the 24-hour dip signified relief only in meteorological terms.
“In real terms, the city remains in the grip of a 40-plus wave as the Dum Dum station’s readings reflect the ground situation in large parts of Calcutta and its suburbs,” Gokul Chandra Debnath, the director of the Regional Meteorological Centre in Alipore, told Metro.
According to the weatherman, temperatures could drop by a degree on Monday without making a difference to the discomfort factor.
“Although temperatures might dip a little over the next 24 hours, high humidity could negate the Celsius drop,” said Debnath.
An official of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) in New Delhi confirmed that three successive days of maximum temperatures above 40 degrees in April was “unprecedented this decade”.
The highest April temperature this decade is 41.2 degrees Celsius, recorded in Alipore on April 19 last year.
“That record is in danger with still almost three weeks left in the month. At this rate, even the 43-degree mark does not look impossible, which is remarkable,” said O.P. Sharma, the chief meteorologist of a private meteorological agency.
Nor’westers, which could lower temperatures, are still some days away.
A trough of low pressure from north to south Bengal drew moisture from the Bay of Bengal into the city’s atmosphere on Sunday, raising the humidity but not the chances of a Nor’wester in the next 24 hours.
“Higher humidity (96 per cent) hasn’t increased the chance of a Nor’wester as much as it has increased the discomfort factor. The weather will be more sultry over the next couple of days,” said a senior scientist of the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting in Noida.
If the heat was oppressive, the power cuts pushed citizens on the offensive. Residents of Uluberia took to the streets on Sunday morning to protest the loadshedding that has added to their April agony.
The 300-strong group blocked National Highway 6 near Mankur More, Bagnan and Nimdighi More in Uluberia for an hour from 9.30am. Traffic went haywire during the blockade with the queue of stranded buses, trucks and cars stretching to at least 5km.
Eight employees’ and officers’ unions of the WBSEDCL sent a statement of appeal to consumers across the state for “cooperation and support”. The unions, across party lines, appealed against the ransacking of WBSEDCL offices and violence against its employees.
In Salt Lake and other parts of the city serviced by the state-run power utility, angry voices multiplied. “We haven’t been able to fill up our water tank,” said D.N. Chakraborty, a resident of Salt Lake’s DL Block. His daughter, a BA final year examinee, said her friends who once used to “envy” her for staying in Salt Lake were now glad they weren’t residents of the “VIP township”.
The CESC-served areas were far better off with the Sunday demand dropping from 1,600MW to 1,370MW. After six consecutive days the deficit came down to 50W,” said a company spokesperson.