No IMD weather station in Navi Mumbai where 14 people died of heat stroke

Ajit Pawar has called for culpable homicide case against organisers of Kharghar event on Sunday that led to deaths of at least 14 people

Lakhs of people attended the event  on the afternoon of Sunday, April 16
Lakhs of people attended the event on the afternoon of Sunday, April 16

Santoshee Gulabkali Mishra

Navi Mumbai, where the Maharashtra Bhushan Awards ceremony was held on Sunday, has no observatory of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) that could have issued local weather alerts to the people.

When the event —which has now led to the tragic deaths of at least 14 people and the hospitalisation of many more—was being held on April 16, it was the Santacruz IMD observatory that recorded a temperature of 35 degrees Celsius, which was 1.5 degrees Celsius above normal.

This is the nearest observatory for Navi Mumbai, which is 24 kilometres from Santacruz as the crow flies and 36.5 km by road. Weather is said to differ sharply every 6 km or so.

The event, meant to confer social worker Appasaheb Dharmadhikari with the award, was reportedly attended by 3 lakh people in the middle of the afternoon, on the 306-acre open grounds in Kharghar, Navi Mumbai.

Santacruz had recorded a maximum temperature of 38 degrees Celsius.

"The IMD doesn't have any observatory near the venue where the function was held on Sunday. There are no weather stations at Kharghar or Panvel and as a protocol we issue forecasts on the basis of the nearest observatory. In this case, it was the Santacruz observatory," IMD scientist Sushma Nair told National Herald

The IMD does not have any weather station in the entire Navi Mumbai belt to take a recording, she said. "The nearest observatory is at Rabale," she added.

Rabale is closer to Thane, which is around 20 ks from Kharghar. Nair also mentioned that based on the data available with the Santacruz office, there was no indication of a heatwave.

"The IMD declares a heatwave when the temperature is 4.5 degrees Celsius above normal," she said.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, Maharashtra opposition leader Ajit Pawar demanded the registration of a culpable homicide case against the government over the sunstroke deaths.

The Eknath Shinde-led Maharashtra government is currently facing criticism from the opposition, which is accusing the government of "insensitivity" in organising the event at noon, which led to the dehydration deaths.

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