'Take steps to avoid loss of life due to heatwave or fire incidents'
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday chaired an important meeting to review preparations for heatwave management and monsoon preparedness in which he stressed on the need to take all measures to avoid deaths due to heatwave or fire incidents.
During the meeting, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) briefed about the persistence of high temperatures in March-May 2022 across the country, the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement.
Prime Minister Modi observed that "we need to take all measures" to avoid deaths due to heatwave or fire incidents, according to the statement.
He also added that the response time towards any such incidents should be minimal. Modi stressed that in view of rising temperatures, regular hospital fire safety audits need to be done.
Modi also spoke about the need to work to substantially reduce the vulnerability of forests across the diverse forest ecosystems in the country against fire hazards, enhance the capabilities of forest personnel and institutions for timely detection of a possible fire and for fighting fires, and to speed up recovery after a fire event, according to the statement.
Modi directed that in view of upcoming monsoon, arrangements for monitoring the quality of drinking water need to be ensured to avoid contamination and resultant spread of water-borne diseases, the statement said.
The PMO said that the need for effective coordination between Central and state agencies to ensure preparedness of all systems for any incidents in the wake of heatwave and upcoming monsoon, was also discussed in the meeting.
The meeting was attended by the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, advisors to PM, Cabinet Secretary, Secretaries in the ministries of ome, health, Jal Shakti, member NDMA, DGs of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) and DG NDRF.
Meanwhile, around 1,100 trips of various trains have been cancelled across India to allow faster movement of coal carriages to tackle critically low stocks at power plants in the middle of blackouts and outages in many states. Earlier, about 650 trips were cancelled by the Indian Railways which extended it to double amid a worsening power crisis.
About 1,100 trips will be cancelled till May 24 — 500 rounds of mail express and 580 trips of passenger trains.
The trains, including from the Northern and South East Central Railway zone, have been cancelled to ensure swift movement of coal.
The Railways is trying to take steps "at war-footing" to transport coal and also cut down the time it takes to move coal to power plants, officials had earlier said.
The move (to cancel trains) is temporary and passenger services will be restored as soon as the situation normalizes, Gaurav Krishna Bansal, an executive director at Indian Railways, was quoted as saying last week. Blackouts and power cuts have hit life and industry in several parts of India in the middle of an unprecedented heatwave.
Some industries are cutting output due to coal shortage, threatening economic recovery at a time the government is tackling high energy prices fueled by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Electricity demand has spiked in the record heatwave. Outstanding bills have added to the massive coal crisis.