It’s blazing hot, people wait for rain relief (Kerala Newsletter)

Thiruvananthapuram, April 13 (IANS) With the summer rain playing truant and the sun blazing down like never before, Kerrala has become a furnace of sorts. The mercury has been rising and has already crossed 40 degrees Celsius in Palakkad district.

The average temperature in some districts of the state has gone up by over two degrees above the average for this time of year; Punalur witnessed 38 degrees Celsius. The state government has issued instructions that manual labourers would be given hours off work in the afternoon, when the heat was at its height.

Alappuzha district, incidentally, recorded the lowest temperature among the 14 districts of the state – at 33 degrees Celsius.

“This is a warning sign for all of us. If we do not take note of this ‘test dose’ that nature is administering, we will face bad times. The need of the hour is to take the environment seriously and initiate measures to protect it,” Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said.

Chandy was referring to media reports of people in the state suffering sun strokes. What began as a few isolated cases kept mounting by the day, and Friday saw about a dozen fresh cases of sunstroke.

“There has been a shortage of rain, with just isolated showers. It is natural that temperature would rise. We expect, however, that the situation will change towards the end of the month, and more rain is expected next month,” said director of the state office of the India Meterological Department, K. Santhosh.

With no rain, water level in the state’s dams is receding. The state is heavily dependent on dams for water and electricity, and delayed rain could cause enormous problems.

“In neighbouring states, there are power cuts for very long hours. All what we have here is a power outage of just one hour, with 30 minutes duration each in the morning and the night. The power situation is such that there should be a power outage for six hours, but we are not going to do it as it would bring untold misery to our people,” remarked State Power Minister Aryadan Mohammed.

Just as the heat hit headlines, the media pointed to the largesse offered by state Agriculture Minister K.P. Mohanan, who granted the state’s 141 legislators a brand new LCD TV as a Vishu (new year, according to local calendar) gift.

Leader of opposition V.S. Achuthanandan said Friday that he had handed back the TV, with a note to the minister that this was not the appropriate time for such a gift, given the drought scenario.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who was away for two days in the United Arab Emirates, returned Saturday to make an on-the-spot assessment of relief works for the drought-affected at Pathanamthitta district. Chandy will also travel to other district headquarters in coming days.

Meanwhile, a fisherman who had returned to the shore and lay tired on the beach at Kollam said: “This heat is killing. I have been a fisherman for two decades, but I have never before experienced this. We can’t stay in the sea for long.”

Prayers have now begun to rise to the rain gods. People do not even want to consider what plight they might find themselves in, if the rain this year is long delayed or scarce.

(Sanu George can be contacted at [email protected])

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