Thursday 19 May 2022
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Weather menace may mean bad economy, Modi’s problems may multiply

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A sudden change in the weather pattern across the country has led to scores of deaths from natural causes. While people died of sunstroke in Odisha, in Gujarat the casualty was due to thunderstorm.

At least five people have died due to sunstroke in Odisha this summer, an official said on Monday. Two people died in the coastal district of Cuttack, one on March 23 and another on April 14.

Large parts of Gujarat were hit by rain, and strong winds on Sunday evening, taking people reeling under intense heat by surprise, while one person was killed in a mishap. The climate across the state, except south Gujarat, started changing after 6 pm, as strong winds swept across North Gujarat, Saurashtra and Kutch regions, bringing the temperatures down.

The unexpected high velocity winds and intermittent showers since Friday morning have hit wheat-producing farmers badly. According to reports, more than 20% of the wheat produce has been affected across the state as the harvesting is yet to end. Farmers from western Uttar Pradesh have suffered the maximum loss because 90% of their crop is still standing in the fields, while the farmers of the eastern and central parts of the state have suffered relatively lesser as many have reached the stage of winnowing (separating crop from chaff).

Uttar Pradesh Met director JP Gupta said the cyclonic circulation over Rajasthan responsible for change in weather conditions had weakened. The sky will be partly cloudy in most parts of the state on Sunday but weather will be dry, he said.

Ballia was the hottest with 37.4 degrees Celsius. Night temperatures were also normal. Besides central parts of the state, Rains and thunder storms were also reported from Bundelkhand and west UP. Normal life was hit by the storm at some places. Three persons reportedly died and several injured in storm-related accidents in different parts of the state. While two persons died in Faizabad when a tree uprooted by strong winds fell on a hut, a wall collapse incident claimed a life in Hardoi.

Mercury levels are rising by the day across Andhra Pradesh with districts like Nandigama, Kurnool, Mahbubnagar and Tirupati recording 42ºC already. A heat wave warning has been notified for districts including Krishna, Visakhapatnam, Prakasam and Nellore of the coastal areas of the State for the next couple of days. On Monday, the maximum temperature in Hyderabad rose by a degree to 39ºC, whereas met officials have predicted 40ºC for Tuesday.

In Kerala, after missing a crucial export opportunity in the January-February period, mango growers are now banking on local pickle business to beat a crunch. Export of the Kerala variety of Alphonso mangoes brings seasonal business to the tune of Rs 300 crore every year. But this year, an erratic weather has reversed the fortunes. The late flowering of mango trees this year , which upset growers’ plans, was timely for the raw material sourcing crunch the pickle industry has been facing.

A meteorological forecast paints a grim picture. The prospects of a disruption in India’s monsoon season have worsened after the Australian Meteorological Bureau (AMB) warned last week that it was very likely that the El Nino weather phenomenon would be seen this year. If this happens, it could push back the economic recovery and stoke inflation in India. The AMB said that there was a more than 70 per cent chance of the El Nino developing this year. El Nino, a weather phenomenon that occurs when the Pacific Ocean heats up abnormally is usually associated with deficient rainfall in India where farming is heavily dependent on June-September monsoon.

Meanwhile, scientists at Texas A&M University have discovered that the increasing levels of toxins in the air above Earth’s two most populous nations — China and India — are so dense that they may actually be disrupting natural weather patterns. The study says that although it’s difficult, if not impossible, to put a quantifiable number on the influence smog has on weather in the Western hemisphere, analysis of satellite imagery and computer data models offer irrefutable proof that a relationship certainly exists.

Inclement weather, however, does not appear to affect the spirit of politically inspired people. Braving inclement weather after overnight downpour, voters had thronged polling booths since 6 am, an hour before polling, to exercise their franchise in their best outfits, on 9 April. Long queues of women and youth could be seen in most of the polling stations waiting patiently for their turn to cast their votes.

With adverse weather predictions, the problems may multiply for Modi if he becomes the next Prime Minister. The economy is already down. A bad or irregular Monsoon may bode ill for Indian agriculture and produce inflationary effects.

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