‘Heatwave needs to be declared a national disaster’: Rajasthan High Court

The Rajasthan High Court has said that heatwave and cold wave need to be declared a “national disaster”. The court made this remark on Thursday while issuing directions to the state government to pay compensation to the dependents of those who died due to heatwave. This comes at a time when heatwave is wreaking havoc in the North Indian state and the temperature is breaking new records every day.

Taking suo motu cognizance of the matter regarding environmental protection and climate change, the High Court directed the Chief Secretary of Rajasthan to constitute committees of various departments to take immediate and appropriate steps for the effective implementation of the ‘Heat Action Plan’ prepared under the Rajasthan Climate Change Project. The court also directed to provide appropriate compensation to the dependents of those who died due to heatstroke.

What did the Rajasthan High Court say?

A single bench of Justice Anoop Kumar Dhandha directed the state authorities to sprinkle water on roads with heavy public movement and provide cooling and shade at traffic signals where necessary. The court also said that a ‘Heat Action Plan’ was developed in Rajasthan under the advice and guidance of the Disaster Management and Relief Department and the Rajasthan State Pollution Control Board. However, it has not been implemented “in letter and spirit”.

Referring to various steps and action plans taken by the Central and State authorities, the Court said that despite drafting of such action plans, effective steps are not being taken by the welfare State in the interest of the general public to protect them from such scorching heat.

The court said, “Hundreds of people have lost their lives this month due to extreme weather conditions in the form of heatwave,” and added that every year the country faces extreme weather conditions in the form of heatwave, rain and cold wave in which many people, especially the poor, lose their lives.

The court said, “The news published in various newspapers and news broadcast in the mass media shows that the death toll in this year’s heatwave has crossed thousands.” The court said, “In view of the large number of deaths due to severe heat and cold wave across the country, the National Disaster Management Authority (“NDMA” for short) has started working on it. There is a need to declare heat and cold wave as a national disaster.”

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