Streets in many places in western Rajasthan bear a deserted look during much of the day as if a lockdown is in place, with people keeping indoors due to the heatwave. Barmer recorded the highest day temperature of 48.2 degrees Celsius on Thursday while the mercury soared to 47.2 in Jaisalmer. The Meteorological Department has issued a red alert for Bikaner, Churu, Jaisalmer, Ganganagar, Hanumangarh, Jhunjhunu, and Kota districts for May 14.
It said the situation is likely to continue for the next two days, after which some respite may be expected. Meanwhile, dust storms coupled with heatwaves in rural areas have disrupted routine life.
"The heat is unbearable. As the day progresses, conditions become tougher and it becomes a challenge to go out in the afternoon," Sunil Kumar, a trader in Barmer, told PTI. He said the sale of ACs and coolers has suddenly shot up and customers visit either in the morning hours or in late evening hours to avoid heatstroke. The heatwave persists till late in the night and before sleeping on the roof, people sprinkle water to reduce the impact of the heat.
Generally, people used to take bath in the evening but due to the scorching sun, water of the tanks kept on the roof turns too hot to use. Be it Barmer or Jaisalmer, people start the day quite early and finish morning routine work by 8-9 am. "The situation is such that even the use of water from tanks kept on the roof late in the evening can scorch the body. Even in the morning, we try to take a bath before the sun rise," Barmer resident Ram Suthar said.
Most business establishments lower their shutters and roads remain almost empty. To minimise the impact of sunlight, shopkeepers in Jaisalmer's Pokaran town use green nets. "It is too hot and blistering heat has made all of us suffer. Roads remain almost empty from 12 to 5 pm, and it feels like a lockdown like situation," Jai Bhati, a local vendor in Jaisalmer said.
"Only a few people are seen coming out of the houses and that too with full efforts, like covering mouth and head completely with cloth. Most of the people are going out with umbrellas to escape the heat," he said. With the rise in temperatures, the demand for lemonade, buttermilk, curd and juice has also increased.
The BSF personnel guarding the India-Pakistan border in the desert are also facing harsh conditions. The temperature in the border areas is one to two degrees higher. In view of such conditions, the Border Security Force (BSF) has made elaborate arrangements to protect its personnel from the heat.
Vineet Kumar, BSF DIG, Barmer sector, said lemon water, curd and buttermilk have been arranged for the BSF men and they have been instructed to consume beverages from time to time. "Border security is a challenging task in summer but despite this, BSF personnel are standing on the border with full readiness and they are also doing everything possible to save themselves from the heat," he said.
A Met official said in Jaipur that the situation of an intense heatwave is prevailing in the state due to the effect of an anti-cyclone system formed in the upper atmospheric levels of western Rajasthan and surrounding areas, and hot and dry westerly winds in the lower levels of the atmosphere. "The currently ongoing intense heatwave will continue for the next 48 hours. Thereafter, there is a possibility of a slight drop in the temperature," he said. The temperatures are likely to dip by 2 to 3 degrees in most places from May 16 and respite from the heatwave is expected.
The department has issued a red alert for Bikaner, Churu, Jaisalmer, Ganganagar, Hanumangarh, Jhunjhunu, and Kota districts for May 14 and an orange alert for several other districts.
-With PTI Input