Major Heat Resiliency Initiatives are Expanding Across India

Local, city, state & national efforts are protecting more people and the economy from climate-fueled extreme heat

GANDHINAGAR, INDIA  – With climate change pushing temperatures higher across India, local and national health and government experts are stepping up efforts to protect people and the economy from extreme heat impacts in rural and urban areas across the country.

Experts from the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and others came together today at the Indian Institute of Public Health Gandhinagar (IIPHG) to discuss those efforts at a workshop in Gandhinagar. Also participating were representatives from the Natural Resources Defense Council, which works in India on energy and health issues.

Officials are encouraging major work underway by cities, states, and the national government to expand programs and initiatives that build resilience and protect public health, efforts that could serve as a model for other communities South Asia. 

For example, the Indian Meteorological Department has expanded weather forecasts to over 300 cities, and issued an early heat “outlook” in February. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) issued  revised national guidelines and television advertisements in local languages focused on protecting communities from extreme heat. 

In addition, 17 cities have developed heat action plans that include public education, extreme heat warnings and efforts to safeguard the most vulnerable populations. The initial cites are: Ahmedabad in Gujarat, Nagpur, Gondia, Chandrapur, Nanded, Akola, and Jalgaon in Maharashtra, as well as Bhubaneswar, Puri, Koraput, and Baleshwar in Odisha.

New with new plans that have been launched or are under development in 2017, including in Vijayawada/Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh, Rajkot and Surat in Gujarat, Hazaribagh in Jharkhand, Rahat in Uttar Pradesh and Hyderabad in Telangana. Eleven Indian states have adopted or are developing statewide Heat Action Plans in 2017 including Odisha, Telangana, Bihar, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka and Haryana.

“Although not formally declared a disaster, heat waves have resulted in thousands of deaths over the years. But this year we have seen a significant fall in the number of heat related deaths,” said Anup Kumar Srivastava from NDMA. “Building public awareness and community outreach is vital to communicating the risks of heat waves and implementing practices to build disaster risk resilience.”

While President Trump in the United States has announced plans for the U.S. to withdraw from the global climate agreement approved in Paris, countries such as India remain committed to the Paris goals. India’s national and sub-national governments recognize the impact extreme weather is having on lives and livelihoods and are taking groundbreaking action.

Adaptation measures like Ahmedabad’s successful heat action plan are proving to be good templates for other cities and states. Here are some key facts showing why such measures are clearly needed:

•       Climate change is making India hotter. 13 of India’s 15 hottest years on record have been since 2002 and India’s hottest recorded temperature was in 2016.

•       Under climate change, Indian heat waves are now more frequent, occurring every 10 years rather than every 100.

•       Without global emissions cuts, temperatures and heat waves will intensify.

•       The costs from extreme heat are projected to rise to $450 billion a year by 2030 due to reduced worker productivity, and climb another $208 billion a year by 2050 as a result of reduced crop yields.

India is no stranger to warm weather, but now its residents are facing a new challenge of heat waves intensified by climate change”, said Dr. Dileep Mavalankar, Director, IIPHG. “These hotter temperatures pose a major health threat. Innovative models like the heat action plan, for preparing vulnerable populations for rising temperatures, such as school children, the elderly, the poor and outdoor workers, has been effective in Ahmedabad. This initiative and extreme heat planning is now scaling to many other cities and states of India under the leadership of national government agencies as well as state and city governments.”

Dr. Tejas Shah, Deputy Health Officer, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, who is also nodal officer of the Ahmedabad’s Heat Action Plan said, “We have put into place a slew of measures to mitigate the effect of summer on citizens. We have been taking concrete actions since 2013 and can see clear decrease in the number of heat-related deaths over the years. The media plays an integral role in raising awareness of citizens, and we have engaged the media in our initiatives from the get go.”

Nehmat Kaur from the Natural Resources Defense Council, added: “Until just a few years ago, there was little communication of the health risks to people coping with extreme heat conditions. Since the development of heat action plans and awareness-building materials like hoardings, paired with straightforward measures like training medical staff to diagnose heat-related illnesses, stocking emergency rooms with ice packs and the creation of an early warning system with alerts issued through the media, we have made solid headway in preparing communities from the devastating effects of extreme heat.”

Two new released resources “Expanding Heat Resilience Across India” and “Cool Roofs: Protecting Local Communities from Extreme Heat” are available  here.

NRDC’s India Initiative Director Anjali Jaiswal has written about expanding heat resilience across India  here 


NRDC: The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, Montana, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC and @NRDC_India.

IIPHG: The Indian Institute of Public Health, Gandhinagar (IIPH) is a leader on public health education, advocacy and research on public health. IIPH pushes the mandate of equity in public health, applying strategy, resources and networks to the issues and practice of public health in India. IIPH’s programs aim to make education and research activities relevant to India in content and context.


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