At least 90 people have died so far this month in three districts in Bihar as the state continues to reel under a heatwave, the Hindustan Times reported on Wednesday.
As many as 41 deaths have been reported in Aurangabad, 35 in Gaya and 14 in Nawada till Tuesday, IANS reported. On Tuesday, state capital Patna recorded a maximum temperature of 41.4°C, five degrees above normal, The India Meteorological Department said.
“Heatwave prevailed at one or two places over South-Central, West parts of the State during past 24 Hrs,” the department said. “Highest maximum temp 42.0 C was recorded at Chapra.” The maximum temperature recorded in Gaya was 41.8°C, four degrees above normal.
Bihar Chief Secretary Deepak Kumar said that the government will conduct an inquiry into the intensity of the heatwave between 3 pm and 5 pm on June 15, when the most number of deaths were recorded. He said Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has also ordered an environment survey of the state over the next four days.
The Bihar government had on Tuesday ordered all schools and colleges in the state to remain closed until June 22. Gaya District Administration chief Abhishek Singh said no work related to the Mahatma Gandhi National Employment Guarantee Act will be carried out after 10.30 am.
Nitish Kumar had earlier announced compensation of Rs 4 lakh to the families of the deceased, and instructed officials to take necessary measures to provide medical help to those affected.
On Sunday, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan termed the deaths in Gaya as unfortunate. “It is very unfortunate that people have died due to heat stroke,” he had said. “I advise people to avoid moving out of the house till temperature reduces. Intense heat affects the brain and leads to various health issues.”
A heatwave is declared when the temperature is at least 4.5 degrees Celsius above normal for two straight days. Several parts of India reeled under a heatwave last week. By June 12, the heatwave spell had stretched for 32 days, the second-longest spell ever recorded.
Heatwaves have become frequent over the last few years. Since 2004, India has experienced 11 of its 15 warmest years. Since 2010, more than 6,000 people have died in heatwaves across the country, Harsh Vardhan had told the Lok Sabha in 2018.