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Will India be able to survive heatwaves of the future?

Over the last 60 years, India has witnessed a rise in meteorological droughts and heatwaves, with the frequency and intensity increasing. According to the World Bank, heat waves in India could soon break the human survivability limit. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had warned us of the same in August 2021, with heatwaves lasting 25 times longer by 2036-65 in the worst-case scenario. This could be devastating for poor and marginalised communities who live in inadequately ventilated, hot and crowded homes without proper access to cooling. Only eight per cent of Indian households own air-conditioning units, according to the India Cooling Action Plan, 2019. Some 380 million people, depend on heat-exposed labour. India's long-term food and public health security will depend on a reliable cold chain network. Being the world's third-largest producer of pharmaceuticals, pre-COVID-19, India lost approximately 20 per cent of temperature-sensitive medical products and 25 per cent of vaccines due to broken cold chains amounting to losses of $313 million annually. A sustainable cooling strategy needs to be created to help the country in its post-COVID recovery since it will boost investments, create jobs, reduce emissions, and secure the supply chains of medical care products, health infrastructure as well as food.

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