Rajasthan High Court Asks Government to Compensate Families Affected by Heatwave

The Rajasthan High Court has issued a directive to the state government to provide compensation to the families of individuals who died as a result of recent heatwaves. The court also stressed the urgency of declaring heatwaves and cold waves as “national calamities.” This order was part of a broader concern about environmental protection and climate change, which prompted the court to take suo motu cognisance.

Justice Anoop Kumar Dhand, presiding over the case, has instructed the Chief Secretary of Rajasthan to form committees across various departments to ensure the rapid and effective implementation of the ‘Heat Action Plan’ developed under the Rajasthan Climate Change Project. Despite the existence of these plans, the court noted they have not been fully implemented to their intended effect.

In addition to financial compensation for bereaved families, the court mandated practical measures to alleviate the impact of heatwaves. These include sprinkling water on heavily trafficked roads, providing cooling spaces and shaded areas at traffic signals, enhancing facilities at health centers for heatwave patients, and issuing advisories for outdoor workers, such as porters and rickshaw pullers, recommending rest periods from 12 noon to 3 pm during peak heat conditions.

The court expressed concern that although various action plans have been drafted by state and central authorities, there has been a lack of effective action from the welfare state to protect the public from severe heat conditions. The court emphasized the significant loss of life due to heatwaves and cold spells, suggesting it is crucial for government bodies to enact legislation based on the Prevention of Deaths Due to Heat and Cold Waves Bill, 2015.

Highlighting the fatal consequences of extreme weather, the court remarked on the substantial death tolls, which are often underreported due to pre-existing health conditions like heart or lung diseases being listed as primary causes of death. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has begun addressing these issues, but the court insisted on the need for formal recognition of these weather events as national calamities.

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In its ruling, titled ‘Save The Planet Earth And The Future Generation Of This Universe,’ the court underscored the critical importance of environmental preservation and the collective responsibility of the government and individuals to safeguard the planet.

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