The current temperatures in Belagavi are hovering around 38 degrees and humidity has reached 67% which is considered oppressive and unbearable per standards. No wonder Belagavi is reeling under a heat wave. Heat exhaustion, dizziness while walking or riding in the hot sun, loss of appetite, constant feelings of weakness, and irritability are symptoms shown by most people in the city. Many are complaining of sunburn which was unheard of even a few years ago. The market areas are not crowded during the day since people venture out early morning or late evening.
Belagavi used to have a pleasant climate across the year. Why, many homes did not even have a fan until the eighties. One could keep the windows open to let in the fresh breeze. While the homes in the suburbs were mainly built in stone/mud with tiled roofs that allowed cooling, the bungalows in the extensions had plenty of trees to offset the heat.
Today with very few open spaces, shrinking green coverage in the city areas, and a massive increase in air pollution due to vehicles, Belagavi has turned into an oven. The nighttime temperatures used to be quite bearable but now it’s a nightmare with the hot humid climate.
Belagavi people are facing the summers like never before. The city is undergoing massive road construction works in many places, diverting traffic. The corporation water comes once a week. The wells have dried out with hundreds of borewells being dug at unimaginable depths that suck out all the groundwater.
The pre-monsoon rains have given a miss altogether, drying up the vegetables in farms and leaving the trees parched. Birds, animals, and cattle are moving around with hung heads, devoid of any energy. Belagavi used to start getting frequent showers in March, around the time of Holi and that continued throughout the summers.
This year, we have not had a single big downpour in the city area, forget hailstorms. Is this going to be the new definition for Belagavi summer? The climate change phenomenon is no longer a global fad, something only discussed in Geneva or at the United Nations. It has come to our doorstep. No water in the lakes, no water in the wells, scorching heat IS CLIMATE CHANGE.
What can we do
· Use water carefully. Don’t throw water from home, water is never old. Store it properly.
· Don’t use hose pipes to wash your cars or driveways.
· Avoid showers and use buckets instead.
· Avoid washing heavy upholstery frequently or anything that requires a large quantity of water
· Make shade for animals. Keep their areas cool. Provide adequate water to pets and other street animals
· Plant trees whenever possible
· Raise your voice, come together to stop the felling of trees wherever you see
· Voice your expectations from candidates seeking votes and elected representatives that they will come out with an action plan for providing adequate water, creating greenery and decreasing air pollution. They have enough people and resources to do all the thinking and acting.
· Don’t venture out of your house without any work. Plan your shopping in the early morning and late evenings. Conserve energy and stay healthy.
· Provide water wherever possible.
· Drink clean water to avoid waterborne diseases.
· Choose natural coolers like watermelon, cucumber, Ragi ambil, kokum sharbat, lime juice, coconut water, sugarcane juice, etc. over sugary cold drinks.