Poll heat facing tough challenge from soaring mercury levels

Poll heat facing tough challenge from soaring mercury levels

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Image for representational purposes only.
| Photo Credit: K.K. Najeeb

The brutal summer weather seems to be giving a tough fight for the political heat amidst the campaign for the Lok Sabha election in Kerala.

With the State bracing for the hottest summer in a decade, the candidates and their party workers are sweating it out in the searing heat. The soaring mercury levels have taken a toll on the campaign, especially in Palakkad, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Kozhikode, Kannur, Alappuzha, Malappuram and Kasaragod districts, which are expecting a spike of 2-4 degree Celsius in the maximum temperatures till March 30.

A change in the campaign timings with afternoon breaks, regular supply of water to keep the candidates and party workers hydrated and holding more indoor meetings are some of the strategies being adopted by the poll managers to beat the sweltering temperatures.

“Electioneering has been rescheduled in a way to safeguard the health of the party workers involved in the campaign. We start by around 7:30 and go up to 11 a.m. before taking a break because of the scorching heat,” said C.N. Mohanan, Ernakulam District Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). “The second schedule begins around 4 p.m. and stretches up to 8:30 p.m.,” he said.

Candidates have made dietary changes to brave the hot and humid weather. Benny Behanan, United Democratic Front candidate for the Chalakudy Lok Sabha constituency, has increased the intake of water to maintain the body temperature. “Party workers make it a point to offer me lime juice and buttermilk at regular intervals. I am also having warm tea during the short breaks,” he said.

Health experts have suggested that candidates and party workers engaged in campaigning must have at least 2 to 2.5 litres of water daily. “It is better to cut down on the intake of tea and coffee and replace it with sambharam (spiced buttermilk) and tender coconut water. Avoid direct exposure to sunlight in view of the chances of heat stroke and skin rashes. It is better to wear cotton clothes,” said Dr. Abraham Varghese, senior general practitioner and former president of the Indian Medical Association, Kerala.

George Kurian, State general secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party, allayed fears about the impact of the sweltering temperatures on the polling day. “The heat condition may ease by mid-April in view of the possibilities of summer rains,” he said.

However, weather experts stated that the feels-like temperature (heat index) is showing an upward trend in several areas across the State in view of the rising humidity levels. “The daytime maximum temperatures may remain high in the coming days in view of the dry weather conditions. Vellanikkara in Thrissur, Punalur in Kollam and Palakkad were the hottest regions in March as per the data by India Meteorological Department,” said Rajeevan. K, Meteorologist at the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority.

Ajil Kottayil, scientist at the Advanced Centre for Atmospheric Radar Research in Cochin University of Science and Technology, pointed out that the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO), an eastward-propagating convective cloud band near the equatorial Indian Ocean, may progress towards phases 1 and 2 in the first week of April, creating favorable conditions for rainfall, particularly in the central to northern regions of Kerala.

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