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July 3, 2012

North India reels under unprecedented heat wave

     Amritsar / Jaipur/ New Delhi: A prolonged spell of intense heat wave has gripped north India, forcing authorities to shut schools, even as frequent power cuts and water shortages add to people’s woes. Amritsar recently recorded a temperature of 47 degree Celsius, several notches above normal. The relentless heat wave has forced people to stay indoors. “It is extremely hot here. It is very difficult to step out of our homes. The crops are also in terrible condition. The children who go to schools are also suffering. Extreme heat and frequent power cuts are making life miserable,” Baljot Kaur, a local, said. Several parts of north India have been reeling under severe heat wave for weeks now. High demand for power has triggered frequent outages, running into several hours. In addition, there are no signs of monsoon rains. “There is acute shortage of water and people have died due to such high temperatures. The monsoon is delayed; there are so many problems,” Sanjay Singh, another local, said. Meanwhile, the hot and dry spell across north India has forced the authorities to order schools to remain shut. The schools too have been asked to extend the summer vacations for students, with a majority of them reopening on July 9. “The state authorities have decided to extend the summer break in all schools be it private or government. The schools are shut till Sunday,” said Naveen Mahajan, a bureaucrat in Jaipur. In New Delhi , the situation is even worse, with the national capital experiencing its hottest summer in the last 33 years. The average temperature during the month of June was 41.5 degrees, substantially higher than its long-term average for the peak summer month. Monsoons were below average last week, fanning concerns about output of crops despite reassurances from weather officials. The rainfall then is key to the growth of summer crops such as rice, corn, cane, oilseeds and cotton. India is sticking to its forecast for an average monsoon this year despite a slow start, with July and August providing the majority of rainfall.
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