The town of Titlagarh in the Balangir district of Odisha was the hottest place in India on Sunday hitting a scorching high of 48.5 degree Celsius. It was the second time in a week that Titlagarh got this dubious distinction. On Friday, it had been the hottest place in the country at 47.5 degrees Celsius. Even by Titlagarh's standards – the town is used to very hot weather – this summer has been harsh. Sunday's was the highest April temperature Titlagarh recorded in 17 years.
Sunday was an abnormally hot day for a large parts of India including coastal Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Maximum temperatures ranged from between 3 degree Celsius to more than 5 degree Celsius above normal in Bihar, West Bengal, Odisha, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, south interior Karnataka and a few places in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Kerala and even Assam and Meghalaya.
Twenty stations that recorded the highest temperatures in the country all showed the mercury rise above 43 degree Celsius.
Like in Titlagarh, many south Indian cities hit temperatures that they hadn't seen in decades. Mysuru, Mandya and Bengaluru in Karnataka recorded their hottest days ever on Sunday as did Dharmapuri in Tamil Nadu and Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh. The highest temperature record for Mysuru before this was set 99 years ago. The previous hottest day in Bengaluru was in 1931.
The weekend turned deadly in Nalgonda district in Telangana. Twelve people died on Saturday of heatstroke and another twelve heat deaths occurred on Sunday, which was the hottest April day ever for the district, according to news reports still awaiting official confirmation of this death toll.
The Indian Meteorological Department has forecast severe heat wave conditions for parts of Odisha and heat waves over the rest of eastern India, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and south Karnataka for at least the next two days. The heat wave is expected to persist over Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha till the end of the week.
As the mercury rises, water levels continue to fall. Marathwada is practically bone dry with water in its reservoirs having sunk to three percent of their capacities. These are dead storage levels at which water cannot flow out of the reservoir but needs to be lifted out. The Maharashtra government has banned digging borewells below 200 feet, stopped water supply to industrial units like breweries and has threatened to fine or even imprison people who violate these water-saving rules.
On Thursday, when the Central Water Commission released its last update, water levels were at only 65 percent of what they were last year. That's also one-fourth lower than the average water level for this time of the year over the last ten years.