'Kashmir of Orissa' witnesses heatwave

Berhampur: Kandhamal, known as Kashmir of Orissa for its cool climate, has now become one of the hot spots in the state with the temperature rising above 40 degree Celsius.

With 60 percent area of the district covered with forest, average annual rainfall recorded at 1587 mm and the altitude ranging between 300 and 1100 metres contributed towards its coolness.

The minimum and maximum temperature in the district was recorded at 1 degree Celsius in December and 35 degree Celsius in May, sources said.

Most parts of Kandhamal are now reeling under 40 degree Celsius temperatuer since the beginning of June.

Environmentalists and weathermen attributed the rising temperature to the effect of global climate change. Not only in Kandhamal the temperature has been increasing in many places including Simla," a senior forest officer here said.

Simla, well-known of its coolness with maximum temperature of 15 degree Celsius, is now recording 20 to 25 degree Celsius, he said.

There are several factors including the increase of population, automobile emission and shrinking of forest cover are some of the reasons for the increase of temperature, the forest officer said.

"Effect of global warming and climate change could have led to rise in temperature in many areas of the state including Kandhamal," PC Mohanty, an expert in Marine Science, said.

"We have analysed the temperature data of the last six years in different parts of the state and observed that the minimum temperature in most places except Puri increased from the 1990s," Mohanty, the coordinator of a programme on Participation of Youth in Real time field observation to benefit education (PROBE), sponsored by Centre's Department of Science and Technology, said.

Under the programme, he said the observatory machines to record the temperature on daily basis have been installed in 15 different parts of the Ganjam, Gajapati, Kandhamal and Boundh districts since last one year.

The school children of the respective areas are sending their data regularly, he said.

The observatory data have also shown increase of the minimum temperature in Kandhamal district, Mohanty said. While he said deep study was needed to find out the exact cause of it, an environmentalist said deforestation was the main cause of increase of the temperature in the district.

Deforestation was caused due to various factors including the felling of trees by the agitators to use the logs for road blockade, smuggling of timbers and cleaning the forest by the tribals to get the forest rights.

The forest area of the district is recorded at 5709.08 sq. km out of the total geographical area 8021 sq km, he said.