It’s hard to beat the sweltering heat in the Indian desert city of Sri Ganganagar, a reality that millions across the country will face with climate change in the decades to come.
While people of affluent countries are using air conditioning and other modern luxuries can find some relief from global warming, many here – and elsewhere in India – don’t even have running water.
Sri Ganganagar, in the desert state of Rajasthan near the Pakistani border, is consistently India’s hottest place and temperatures temperatures of 50 degrees Celsius are not uncommon.
The two million inhabitants of the region – which corresponds to the population of Slovenia – wake up early in the long summer months.
In the late morning the sun is already burning and the temperature is low A brooding 42 ° C, everyone quickly retreats home by early evening.
The fruit seller Dinesh Kumar Shah pointed to his big black umbrella and said e: “Until noon there are only those outside who cannot avoid it. We just sit under it. «
Few lucky few have air conditioners, as most people use fans, cheaper air coolers – between power outages – and thick green curtains called tarpaulins to shield the sun.
» We, the poor are hardest hit, « said Kuldeep Kaur, a local resident. Ceiling fans in our homes only distribute hot air.
“It’s especially difficult for small children to be at home in summer. But I don’t think the common man can do much about it. We just have to come to terms with it. «
Along the city’s irrigation canals, young and old boys and men – but not the women of the socially conservative state of Rajasthan – cool off in the muddy water.
The locals know the drainage plans. It helps them water their crops and tells them where to dive.
« This is better than any fan or air cooler, » said Arjun Sarsar, 16, who had literally chilled with his friends for four hours.
The average temperature in India rose by around 0.7 degrees Celsius between the beginning of the 20th century and 2018. According to a recent government report, it is expected to rise by another 4.4 degrees by 2100.
The study also predicts that by then the frequency of heat waves will be three to four times higher than in 1976-2005 and will continue to be twice as long.
According to a draft report of the Advisory Committee on Climate Sciences The United Nations, which was viewed by AFP last month, will likely see hundreds of millions of people experiencing 30 days of deadly heat each year by 2080 by 2080, even if the world meets the Paris Climate Agreement goal. The limitation of warming to below two degrees Celsius.
High humidity and heat together can create so-called « humid temperatures », so that sweating no longer cools the person and possibly kills a healthy adult within hours.« Temperatures and humidity are rising in India and around the world, » Roxy Matthew Cole, climate scientist at the India Institute of Tropical Meteorology, told AFP.
« It’s not just about heat waves, it’s the increase that goes with them the humidity, which makes you feel like the temperature is much higher (than it is), « added Cole.
Indian cities are implementing » heat action plans, « planting trees in urban areas and painting roofs with reflective reflections Color, but this is no substitute for global emissions reduction measures.
Back in Sri Ganganagar, the locals keep themselves cool by making plastic cups of sugar cane juice with mint leaves and lemon, and Mathura Choudhary sells them for 10 rupees ($ 0.13) each.
« This is the time we do our best work, » Chaudhry told AFP at his booth beside the road. Who wouldn’t love a glass or two of it in the summer? It’s cool, sweet and refreshing. ”Sitaram Sivta, who fills the plastic water containers his company distributes to households without running water, said city dwellers are used to the summer heat.
“ It’s not very hot. It’s not the summer of Sri Ganganagar yet … (temperature) only 41 or 42. «
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