Heatwave sweeps parts of India leaving scores dead

Delay in the arrival of monsoon rains and a heatwave that is sweeping across parts of India have led to the death of over 75 in Bihar and forcing many to leave their drought-ridden farms in rural Maharashtra and take shelter in relief camps.

This year’s hot summer season has been particularly harsh across many parts of India with temperature crossing a searing 50 degrees Celsius in the shade in the state of Rajasthan and with temperature above 45 degree Celsius in many other parts of India.

The western state of Maharashtra is believed to be suffering from the worst drought in 47 years with farmers heading to relief camps where the government is providing them with food and shelter, as well as fodder and water for their cattle.

In the impoverished state of Bihar, high temperatures have led to the death of 76 people within the past two weeks. Most of the deaths were reported from the three districts of Aurangabad, Gaya and Nawada. The state government has announced a compensation of INR 400,000 to the families of each heatwave victim

Falling groundwater levels, poor irrigation techniques and fallout from global warming weather conditions have all combined to leave farmers in most of India reliant on the June to September southwest monsoon that provides the country with most of its annual rainfall.

With three of the last five monsoon falling short on delivering sufficient rains the country has faced repeated droughts that have led to farmers losing entire seasonal crops. Though the Indian Meteorological Department is predicting a normal monsoon this year, the rains are already late by two weeks and this worries the farmers.