Prime Minister Narendra Modi issued a strong warning on Wednesday about rising temperatures and the increasing number of fires in landfills, garbage dumps, and forests, saying that “temperatures are rapidly rising in the country… we are seeing increasing incidents of fires in various places.” Modi also asked states to prioritise fire-safety audits for hospitals, factories, and other public buildings when speaking to chief ministers at a meeting to review the Covid situation in India.
“The temperature is rapidly rising… and much earlier than usual. During this time, we’ve seen an increase in the number of fires in various locations, including jungles, important buildings, and hospitals, in recent days “According to the Prime Minister.
The warning came hours after a major fire at a state-run hospital in Chennai, Tamil Nadu’s capital; no one was injured and 33 patients were relocated.
A chemical factory in Uttar Pradesh also caught fire.
It also came as Delhi was bracing for yet another heat wave, with temperatures reaching 44 degrees Celsius on Thursday.
Fires in dump yards, including one in the Ghazipur landfill in eastern Delhi and another yesterday in the Bhalswa landfill site in the north, have added to the toxic air that is suffocating people in the world’s most polluted capital.
As Modi spoke, the Bhalswa fire forced the closure of a nearby school, where many of the students’ parents work as trash pickers at the site. “We can’t force them to sit here; it’s not good for them,” a teacher told ANI.
Aside from dump yard fires, blazes have also erupted in forested areas in the north of the country and the Mumbai area.
Over 500 forest fires have been reported in Himachal Pradesh since April 1, destroying 3,575 hectares and causing 92 lakh dollars in damage. A fire was also reported earlier this week in Manesar, Haryana, in which one person died.
Heat waves are expected in the east, central, and northwest of India, including Delhi, over the next five days, according to the India Meteorological Department, posing health risks to infants, the elderly, and people with chronic diseases.