India overheats too early, increasing the risk of fire, Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned on Wednesday, as New Delhi scorched in extreme heat and a burning landfill on the outskirts of the capital spewed toxic smoke into the air.
“Temperatures are rising rapidly in the country, and rising earlier than usual,” PM Modi told the head of state in an online conference.
“In such a time, we have seen an increase in fire incidents in various places – in forests, important buildings and in hospitals – in the last few days.”
The Prime Minister asked the state government to prioritize fire safety audits for hospitals. Dozens of people die each year in fires at hospitals and factories, mainly due to illegal construction and poor enforcement of safety requirements.
Fires in Delhi’s filthy garbage dump also contribute to the toxic air that people living in the world’s most polluted capital have to inhale.
As PM Modi spoke, firefighters were scrambling to put out the blaze at the Bhalswa landfill, a hill that rises above the northwestern edge of the city. Smoke from burning debris forced nearby schools to close on Tuesday. Many parents of students work as garbage collectors at the site.
“We can’t make them sit here, it’s not going to be healthy for them at all,” Nayna, a part -time teacher who only gave one name, told Reuters partner ANI.
The cause of landfill fires is still under investigation, although such incidents are common during scorching summers in India, when temperatures often exceed 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) before monsoon rains bring relief.
The capital is warmer than 40 C for several days this month, with peak summer still to come before the cooling monsoon rains arrive in June.
The Indian Meteorological Department is forecasting heatwave conditions in the east, central and northwest of the country – including the capital – over the next five days and marking risks to the health of infants, the elderly and those with chronic diseases.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)