Jodhpur, India Unveils a Net-Zero Public Cooling Station

As India grapples with intense heat, its cities are advancing cooling solutions to help keep people safe.

Women sit on benches in a white room with fans hanging high on the walls

Jodhpur's cooling station started operating in April 2024.



Co-authored by Dr. Ritika Kapoor and Abhiyant Tiwari of NRDC India with Siraz Hirani and Ramesh Gadhvi of Mahila Housing Trust

Many parts of India have been experiencing dangerous heat over the past few weeks, with multiple regions under alerts for extremely severe heat. Recent conditions are part of a broader trend that could make 2024 the hottest year on record for the country (closely following 2023, which was the hottest year globally since recordkeeping began). April 2024 saw some of the highest temperatures ever recorded nationally, with readings in a few locations reaching as high as 50C (122F).

Intense heat is driving increased power demand, and the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections heightened the likelihood of heat-related health harms.​ The perils of extreme heat are expected to increase as climate change causes a rise in global temperatures. This danger is especially worrying for South Asia, where a recent heatwave was deemed 45 times more likely because of climate warming. The risks will be further exacerbated for vulnerable communities, such as the elderly, people lacking access to air conditioning, low-income populations, and informal sector and outdoor workers. To counter this threat, multiple strategies, including passive cooling methods, the addition of green spaces, and the establishment of public cooling stations, can offer thermal relief for vulnerable individuals during peak heat hours.  

Jodhpur's Heat Action Plan Advances Novel Cooling Station 

Northwestern India is increasingly confronting intense heat risks. On May 19, 2016, the village of Phalodi (a town in the Jodhpur district) logged the highest daytime temperature reading ever recorded in India at 51°C (123.8 °F)—an observation that ranked third highest among global temperatures that day. Following that record high, NRDC, along with Mahila Housing Trust (MHT) and Jodhpur Nagar Nigam North (JNNN), initiated consultations for the development of a local Heat Action Plan (HAP) to improve local preparedness and reduce health harms from the intensifying heat problem.

Our organizations, working closely with JNNN, developed and launched Jodhpur’s HAP in 2023.  The Jodhpur HAP has advanced several innovations, including data-driven spatial vulnerability assessment that clarifies, for the first time, how local heat risks vary ward by ward. To complement this local perspective, India’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) aids in the implementation of HAPs by providing the data that inform detailed temperature forecasts and heat-health early warning systems. 

In its second year of implementation, Jodhpur's HAP is helping to advance development of several strategies to improve adaptive capacity. Because so many local residents need relief from heat, the city has prioritized public cooling stations that can help to keep urban poor and marginalized communities safer. In April 2024, MHT and JNNN introduced a first-of-its-kind Net-Zero Cooling Station. This cooling station was installed in a heat-vulnerable ward in Jodhpur North identified through the HAP's vulnerability assessment and includes several unique features:  

  • It integrates a mist sprinkler fan and cooling curtains for effective reduction in temperature
  • Solar panels that power lights, fans, and sprinklers, making the station more eco-friendly and sustainable
  • Wind tower that utilizes natural airflow to expel hot air and usher in cooler air
  • Provision of drinking water, ORS and first-aid kit facilities for enhanced comfort during heat waves
  • Sitting area with benches to accommodate at least 40 people at a time
  • Transparent façade for safety and visual connection with the surroundings
  • Innovative Bison and Khas panels to ensure sturdiness and durability

Early evidence indicates that conditions inside the cooling center are substantially cooler than the outdoors. During monitoring in late April 2024, average temperatures inside the cooling center were about 8°C lower than the ambient temperatures during peak hours (12–6 pm). The highest outdoor temperature was recorded at 4:05 pm, when the cooling station was 12°C cooler than the nearby outdoors:

Hourly temperature difference inside and outside cooling station during peak hours (12-6pm). 



This early data highlights the necessity of installing additional cooling stations in the city's heat hotspots to provide additional relief.

Community Member Feedback 

In addition to the observational data, community members are also finding value in the cooling station and seeing it as a crucial addition to public spaces. These stations offer important respite during peak heat hours, particularly for vulnerable people who may lack access to other cooling options.

One such community perspective comes from Raju Prajapat, a Jodhpur resident, who works as a marketing executive and finds himself using the cooling center often during the workday:

“My job involves me traveling a lot across the city. I noticed this cooling center and started coming regularly as it is comfortable since there’s drinking water available along with fans and shade. I have been using this center as a rest stop for over a month now and think more such cooling centers should be made available throughout the city.”

Raju Prajapat, in a conversation with NRDC

A man sits on a bench next to three large water jugs

Jodhpur city resident Raju Prajapat at a recent visit to the cooling station



Strengthening Jodhpur’s Heat Preparedness Efforts 

To further strengthen the city's heat adaptation efforts, Jodhpur Nagar Nigam North hosted a Jodhpur Heat Action Plan stakeholder consultation event on May 23, 2024. The aim of the meeting, chaired by the JNNN Municipal Commissioner, was to review preparedness and response measures being implemented to protect citizens, particularly those from vulnerable communities, from extreme heat. The JNNN Deputy Municipal Commissioner and HAP Nodal Officer led a review of key initiatives implemented under Jodhpur's HAP, a signal of strong local support and ownership of the plan. The city's ongoing HAP actions include heatwave early-warning system mechanisms, public drinking water provisions, the first-of-its-kind net-zero cooling station, cool roof installations in slum areas, urban greening, and other passive cooling measures. 

Representatives from more than twenty local government departments attended the consultation including ICDS, PHED, Health, Transportation Education, Engineering, Labour and Animal Husbandry, amongst others. Multiple departments expressed Interest in further collaborative efforts to expand on heat adaptation measures for the current and future heat seasons. In concluding remarks, the Municipal Commissioner highlighted the need to install an additional cooling station in the city's main market area before next summer's heat season arrives.

People sit around long tables in a conference room

Discussions at the Jodhpur Heat Action Plan Stakeholder Consultation held on May 23, 2024.



Preparing for a Hotter Future 

Cooling stations like the one launched in Jodhpur can play a vital role for vulnerable communities lacking home air conditioning, potentially providing access to lifesaving relief. More broadly, the lessons we're learning from Jodhpur's cooling facility can guide the expansion of similar initiatives in heat-prone regions across India.

In numerous countries, existing infrastructure like libraries, senior centers, and places of worship are already being repurposed to offer temporary relief during extreme heat events. Further steps to replicate this adaptive model include identifying suitable structures, securing funding through community agreements or grants, and enhancing amenities with additional community services. Jodhpur's new Net-Zero Cooling Station serves as a beacon of hope for local residents, providing safety, comfort, and relief to those most in need.

MHT acknowledges the Clean Cooling Collaborative for its support of the cooling station project.

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