Coldest weather in decades hits India: group says 107 dead

Published: January 4, 2013

"Over 100,000 homeless people in Delhi alone are exposed to intense cold weather," says Sandeep Chachra. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DEHLI: The coldest weather in northern India for at least 44 years has killed more than 100 homeless people, an aid group said on Thursday.

The capital New Delhi saw a maximum temperature of 9.8 Celsius (50 Fahrenheit) on Tuesday – the lowest since records began in 1969. Fog forced cancellation of flights and trains. Low temperatures over the next several days are expected to be 3 to 4 Celsius (37-39 Fahrenheit).

Anti-poverty charity ActionAid said it knew of 107 people who had died in northern states because of cold and blamed state authorities for not providing shelters despite instructions from the Supreme Court.

“Over 100,000 homeless people in Delhi alone are exposed to intense cold weather. Over 100 people have died in Uttar Pradesh and a few people in Rajasthan,” said Sandeep Chachra, who works for the charity and reports to the Supreme Court.

Ambika Chaudhury, a minister in Uttar Pradesh, accepted there had been deaths due to cold, as well as malnutrition, but that their causes had yet to be officially confirmed.

Relief Commissioner L Venkateshwarlu, who oversees compensation to victims’ families in the state, said no deaths had been certified as due to cold this winter and that post-mortems would take a long time.

Winters in northern India have become colder in recent years, said Rajendra Kumar Jenamani, a scientist at the Meteorological Department. He blamed pollution from industrialization and changing crop planting patterns.

“We cannot stop change in weather, but are trying to monitor and adapt airport, railway services accordingly,” he said.

The Supreme Court told state governments to provide winter shelter for homeless people, but compliance was low and many people sleep on pavements, Chachra said. In the winter it is common to see entire families sleeping outside in New Delhi.

Weather officials said temperatures are expected to stay low over the next few days.

on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook

Reader Comments (4)

  • Tony Singh
    Jan 4, 2013 - 4:21PM

    Is it the weather that kills or is it lack of clothing and shelter?

    Recommend

  • Usman786
    Jan 4, 2013 - 9:04PM

    Really funny to know that Indian have billions of dollars and talent in the form of engrs from IITs, IT geeks and still getting on top of list of charities from renowned NGOs and UN agencies…..shame on u Indian….now donot write here……go back to times of India forum

    Recommend

  • john
    Jan 6, 2013 - 11:11AM

    India should provide for the homeless in the cold weather. It is shameful that one person has to die.

    Recommend

  • Charlie
    Jan 8, 2013 - 4:56PM

    So, what happened to Global Warming?

    Recommend

More in World