Record Heat Wave Cripples Delhi: Water Scarcity and Health Crisis

Reported by Pushpa


The slums of Delhi’s Chanakyapuri neighborhood are suffering as fresh water becomes scarce. Temperatures have soared to a record-breaking 49.9 degrees Celsius (121 Fahrenheit), making it the hottest day ever recorded in the city.


Residents are struggling to cope as the sun beats down on their tin-roofed homes. When a water truck arrives, chaos ensues. People scramble, pushing and shoving to fill their containers, but many leave empty-handed.


Poonam Shah, a mother of six, shares her struggle.There are 10 people in my family. Can we all bathe with one bucket of water?” she asks. Today, her family may not even have that. Poonam missed the water truck while working at her street food stall. Now, she faces the tough choice of buying water, which costs nearly half of her daily earnings of $3.


With temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius for the past week, the Delhi government has been forced to ration water deliveries. Chanakyapuri, which once received two to three tanker deliveries daily, now gets just one.


The extreme heat has claimed lives across India, with at least one death in Delhi. Hospitals like Ram Manohar Lohiya (RML) are treating more heatstroke patients. Dr. Ajay Shukla, the hospital’s superintendent, warns that the mortality rate for heatstroke is alarmingly high, between 60 to 80 percent. Rapid cooling is crucial for survival, but not everyone reaches the hospital in time.


One victim was a 40-year-old migrant laborer working in a hot, congested factory. Despite efforts to save him, he succumbed to the heat. Poor communities are the hardest hit. 


Experts link this extreme weather to climate change. Farwa Aamer, from the Asia Society Policy Institute, highlights the urgent need for adaptation strategies to protect vulnerable populations. She emphasizes that the rising temperatures are a clear sign of climate change’s escalating impacts.

This heatwave serves as a stark reminder of the pressing need for climate action and better support for those most affected by rising temperatures.

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