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Clouds truant, mercury soars

Bhubaneswar, March 19: Mercury has shot up suddenly, much to the discomfort of city residents. Umbrellas are out and scarf-covered faces can be seen everywhere on the roads.

A gruelling summer seems to be in the offing with weatherman forecasting further rise in temperature.

The mercury, which was hovering around 33° Celsius last week, soared suddenly with the city recording a maximum temperature of 39° Celsius yesterday.

“Absence of clouds in the sky makes sun rays hit the ground directly, leading to rise in temperature. It is likely to increase gradually but thundershowers may also occur this month,” said L.D.P Ray, director in charge of regional meteorological centre, Bhubaneswar.

The temperature of the city was 32.2° Celsius on March 1. “The weather was pleasant in the first week of March. The city also witnessed rainfall this month. But all of a sudden, the mercury shot up to 39°Celsius. One does not feel like stepping out of house,” said Rashmi Samal, a city resident.

With mercury rising, Capital Hospital authorities have kept two wards ready for sunstroke victims. Each ward has as many as six beds and are equipped with air-conditioners and coolers.

“We have also stocked up adequate oral rehydration salt (ORS) sachets to tackle heatstroke cases. We are prepared to face any eventualities,” said director of Capital Hospital P.K. Acharya.

On the other hand, officials of the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation said that their jalachatra (drinking water kiosk) programme would shortly start in the city.

“We will convene a meeting with representatives of various non-governmental organisations to set up drinking water kiosks in the city. Around 50 such kiosks would be set up in various parts of the city next week,” said a senior official of the corporation.

The rise in temperature, however, has come as good news for watermelon sellers who are doing brisk business. The number of shops selling the fleshy fruit has multiplied overnight. The same is the case with lassi kiosks which have mushroomed.

Environmentalists attribute the rise in temperature to rapid urbanisation, which has led to shrinking of water bodies. “This has become a normal phenomenon around this time of the year. Unless we revive our water bodies on a priority basis, the situation is not going to change,” said Bijay Mishra, an environmentalist.