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Capital reels under rays of extreme risk

Sameer Kumar, a 29-year-old media professional in Ranchi, woke up soaked early on Sunday. No, it wasn’t a rainy surprise, but high relative humidity compounded by morning power cut that spoiled his sleep. Outside his field-facing apartment, the sun was blazing full throttle too. So, there was no question of making good use of weekend time.

“It is so frustrating when you can’t sleep for long or go out on a Sunday. I called up two of my friends for a get-together at their place in Bariatu, but the situation was equally bad there. Power had tripped around midnight and the inverter was about to die,” Sameer said, adding that he had already showered twice since morning.

Thanks to its altitude advantage, the maximum temperature in Ranchi is normally low compared to singed cities and towns such as Jamshedpur, Bokaro, Daltonganj and Dhanbad, which are fretting at 40-degree plus. But, relative humidity at 72 per cent and a high and stagnant UV index — an international standard measurement of the strength of the ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun at a particular place and time — has enhanced the capital’s discomfort over the past few days.

On Sunday, the UV index in Ranchi was 12, well above the danger mark (see chart) of 7. A day before, the index read 11, also high risk. Forecast shows that the high UV index would stay put till Thursday.

Meteovista, a global agency authorised by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) to monitor climate changes and relay findings to countries concerned, had put four places in Jharkhand on UV alert last year.

In layman’s language, while UV rays are essential for the human body to produce Vitamin D, overexposure can cause a host of diseases, including rickets, psoriasis, eczema and jaundice, and in extreme cases skin cancer.

Director of Ranchi weather office B.K. Mandal could not be contacted, but an official on duty confirmed that the sun would be harsh for the whole week.

“High UV index means we are exposed to harmful radiation. If the figure is 11 plus, it means direct sunlight penetration is above 60 per cent. In a way, it is also an indication of the depleting ozone layer. Moderate humidity (55-60 per cent) is also jacking up the discomfort index. Residents must take extra precautions,” he said.

Empty streets, parks and hangouts mirrored the harsh sun and high humidity.

“It is a strange situation. You can neither stay home owing to unscheduled power cuts nor venture out because of heat and humidity. Our colony has decided to pool in money to buy extra fuel to run gensets in case power trips at night,” said S.K. Srivastava, a resident of Tagore Garden.

How are you protecting yourself from UV rays?

Tell ttkhand@abpmail.com