No respite for North India from cold, death toll rises to 233
Meanwhile, Delhi HC asked the government to immediately provide temporary night shelters to the homeless.
New Delhi: At least 34 more deaths have been reported from Uttar Pradesh as the unabated cold wave continued in North India, taking the death toll to 233 people. Meanwhile, the minimum temperature in New Delhi rose to 4.4 degree Celsius from its previous 3.3 degree Celsius on Wednesday, but the Met department says mercury dipped to sub-zero levels in some parts of Uttar Pradesh.
While Lucknow recorded minus 0.7 degree Celsius on Wednesday, Srinagar got some respite with the night temperature climbing by five degrees from minus 5.5 to 0.3 degree Celsius. Met office sources said in Lucknow that mercury fell to sub-zero levels in Gorakhpur, Bareilly, Ghazipur, Kanpur and Lucknow and the minimum temperature was around ten notches below normal. Gorakhpur and Ghazipur with minus one degree Celsius were the coldest places in the state followed by Lucknow with minus 0.7 degree Celsius.
People in parts of Punjab and Haryana woke up to a bright sunny day after days of foggy weather but there was no let up in cold conditions. It was freezing cold in Punjab's Adampur, which recorded a minimum temperature of 0.6 degree Celsius, down four notches. Bathinda, too, experienced a cold night at 1.2 degree Celsius, three below normal.
Rajasthan also reeled under cold wave condition with Churu being the coldest place at 0.2 degree Celsius. While Sriganganagar recorded 1.7 degree Celsius, Pilani and Vanasthali recorded minimum of 2.1 and 3.1 degree Celsius.
Uttarakhand experienced a let-up in biting cold with most of the places including Dehradun and those in the higher reaches registering a marginal rise in temperature. Dehradun, where the mercury had dropped to half degree below freezing point on Tuesday making it the coldest day of the season in the city in 68 years, recorded a minimum of 1.9 degree Celsius.
The temperature in higher reaches also rose marginally with Tehri recording a minimum of 1.5 degree Celsius, up from yesterday's 0.5 degree Celsius. Kolkata witnessed the coldest day in a decade as temperature dropped to nine degree Celsius. "It is the coldest day in 10 years, it is going to remain at around 9 degree Celsius in the next 24 hours," Met department officials said.
Agartala also recorded coldest day of the decade as the mercury dipped to 4.6 degree Celsius on Wednesday. Madhya Pradesh also continued to feel the pinch with temperatures dipping to sub-zero levels in some regions. Hill station Pachmarhi remained the coldest as mercury plunged below zero degree Celsius with a minimum temperature of minus two degree Celsius, while Datia and Umaria shivered at 0.3 degree Celsius.
Meanwhile, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the government to take the "necessary" steps immediately to provide temporary night shelters to the homeless amid the bone-chilling cold in the capital. "Sometimes, you need to bend the law to help the homeless poor," said a bench of Chief Justice D Murugesan and Justice VK Jain during the hearing on a PIL on the issue.
The court also asked the Delhi government to use the unoccupied and closed government buildings for sheltering the homeless temporarily at night. "We expect the government to make necessary arrangement of government buildings as temporary arrangements for homeless for accommodation. The accommodation matter of homeless should not be taken lightly," it said.
Najmi Waziri, appearing for the city government, told the court that "within one week or ten days, the government will come up with more than dozen of temporary night shelters." He also said ten to twelve night shelters would be made in East Delhi and seven buildings have been finalised for the makeshift night shelters where homeless could be accommodated.
The court also asked the DDA and other authorities to give no-objection-certificate about their land properties within 24 hours where temporary shelters could be built. Senior advocate Jayant Bhushan, appearing for an NGO, said the Supreme Court, in one of its orders, had noted that the Delhi government would construct 130 permanent and 50 temporary night shelters in the city, but this has not been done so far.
The court had earlier taken suo motu cognisance of a media report about the demolition of a night shelter set up by NGOs in December 2010 and the civic bodies doing nothing to protect the homeless from the cold.
With Additional Inputs from PTI