India: Reports of heatwave-related deaths spark row in Uttar Pradesh

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JUNE 19, 2023

According to reports, nearly 100 people have died in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh and eastern Bihar over the past few days amid rising temperatures. This has since prompted officials in the northern state to launch an investigation into dozens of deaths that some have attributed to a heatwave, reported BBC.

What happened in Uttar Pradesh?

As per media reports, the total death toll was between 96 and 98. Meanwhile, 68 had been registered from the Indian state’s Ballia district, reported BBC. The Ballia district on Sunday (June 18) surpassed the average temperature of 38 degree Celsius to reach 43 degree Celsius with the relative humidity recorded at 25 per cent.

A report by the Associated Press said authorities found that most of those who died were over the age of 60, while others had pre-existing health conditions that were exacerbated by the intense heat. The government has advised elderly people to stay indoors as temperatures in several parts of UP ranged between 42 degree Celsius and 47 degree Celsius in the past week.

What sparked the row?

According to a report by BBC, a district health official, who suggested that the deaths could have been caused due to the heat, was transferred from UP a day later. The chief of Ballia district hospital, Diwakar Singh told reporters that at least 25 deaths have been recorded and that heat might have been a factor.

“Most of the patients were above 60 and had pre-existing ailments. These were exacerbated by the heat and they were brought to the hospital in serious condition. They died despite being given adequate treatment and medicines,” said Singh.

The next day he was transferred from the post. UP Deputy Chief Minister and state Health Minister Brajesh Pathak called Singh’s statements “careless” and said that the government is taking the situation “very seriously”.

The state government has since sent two senior officials to investigate the deaths and set up a panel to submit a report on the deaths. However, multiple opposition leaders have blamed the government for not warning people about the heatwave.

Similarly, officials in the neighbouring state Bihar, where 40 deaths have been attributed to heat since May 31, have denied the claims. Dr. Umesh Kumar, the official in charge of Bihar’s disaster control room, told BBC, that they had only established one report of death due to extreme heat in the state’s Jehanabad district.


Courtesy/Source: WION / PTI