Date:02/06/2003 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2003/06/02/stories/2003060203530300.htm
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Southern States - Andhra Pradesh

Birds, animals perish as heatwave persists

By Our Staff Reporter

KHAMMAM June 1. The heatwave deaths are not restricted to human beings alone. The soaring temperatures have been taking a high toll of birds as well. The coal town of Kothagudem, as recorded by some unofficial agencies, registered 52 degrees Celsius in the day while Khammam town, recorded 46 degrees Celsius, which is the highest for the season.

Some of the gardens in town have been littered with hundreds of bats that have perished in the heat wave. About 60 bats died in the camp office of a senior official till late in the evening. A number of nocturnal mammals were found dead on the roadside from Kothagudem to Bhadrachalam. Birds of other species were also dying in the agencies in a big way due to the persisting heatwave conditions in the district. Wild animals in the Kinnerasani sanctuary were feared to have borne the brunt of situation worsening by the day, with water sources going dry.

In all 35 persons died of sunstroke in the four revenue divisions, according to official sources, though unofficial sources out the toll at 60.

Work on in coalmines

An official from Singareni Collieries said though the temperature recorded in Kothagudem town was constantly over 50 degrees Celsius, no official confirmation was made about it. Some banks and private agencies have been recording the temperature, but they could not taken into cognisance.

If temperature readings reported in the newspapers were to be taken into consideration, coal workers in the area need to be given lay off with pay. This being the crucial season for coal production in the opencast mines, the management was not in a position forego the highly productive mandays.

Once the monsoon sets it, production in the opencast mines slows down. The authorities were in a dilemma.

B. Dalaiah, general secretary of the Singareni Coal Mines Labour Union, the company level representative union, said the demand for lay off to the coal workers was taken up with the management.

The management, however, assured to take all precautionary measures to offset the impact of the heatwave in the opencast mines, instead of declaring lay off.

Accordingly, it has been providing the workers with coolers and adequate water, buttermilk and lemon juice at the work place.

The workers too were happy with the way the management responded, he claimed.

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