Unabated heat continues in Shimla

June 24th, 2009 - 5:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Shimla, June 24 (IANS) The unabated heat wave continued to parch the hills in the Himachal Pradesh capital Shimla, as the mercury soared to 30.3 degrees Celsius Wednesday.

“The unusual rise in temperature and delay in monsoon is creating drought-like conditions in the low and mid-hills. The situation is likely to continue for some more days,” Manmohan Singh, director of the meteorological office here, told IANS.

The hottest day of the season was recorded Tuesday with the mercury touching 30.6 degrees Celsius in Shimla.

Singh said most of the districts had received deficient rainfall during the summer.

“With rains being deficient by almost 53 percent this season, the delay in the arrival of the monsoon will trigger drought in the hills,” he warned.

“This time the problem is more acute as the snowfall has played truant during the winter. The floating population of tourists in Shimla is making the situation worse this season. The government has started rationing water here.” A.N. Sharma, Shimla’s municipal commissioner said.

Added agriculture department officials: “The prolonged dry spell has badly affected the crops in Sirmaur, Una, Hamirpur, Bilaspur and Solan district.”

Slightly more than 80 percent of the total cultivated area in the state is rain-fed.

However, for the apple crop the situation is not so alarming so far.

“The situation is not so alarming till date for the apple crop. If the situation persists for the next 10 days, then it is likely to hit its yield by 25-30 percent,” S.P. Bhardwaj, joint director at Dr. Y.S. Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry in Solan, admitted.

The dry and hot conditions have caused forest fires in the mid and lower hill areas, particularly the pine forests.

“An unusually large number of fires have been reported from various districts, except from tribal Kinnaur, Lahaul and Spiti districts because of the unprecedented hot weather,” state Forest Minister J.P. Nadda said.

“We are keeping our fingers crossed as the delay in monsoon would mean more forest fire incidents,” he added.

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