The Indian Meteorological Department has announced a new heat wave, the second in three weeks, which is expected to particularly affect the regions where the next phase of the general elections is to take place.

The states of Uttar Pradesh – the most populous state in the country –, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Jharkhand, which will vote on Monday May 20, could experience a “moderate” heat wave, with temperatures around 40°C, according to forecasts published on Friday May 17.

The Indian Meteorological Department has advised monitoring for possible health problems in infants, the elderly or people with chronic illnesses and to shelter from heat.

Some areas are expected to experience temperatures 2-3°C above normal. It is expected to be as high as 45°C in the capital, New Delhi, over the weekend.

Last month, an exceptional heat wave affected South and Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines and Bangladesh where thousands of schools suspended classes. According to scientific research, heat waves are longer, more frequent but also more intense due to global warming.

968 million Indians called to vote

India’s Election Commission said last month it had formed a task force to examine the impact of heatwaves and humidity before each round of voting.

Turnout in the general elections is so far lower than in 2019, with analysts attributing this decline to “a certain disinterest” among voters, others to the heat wave the country is experiencing. In Mathura (Uttar Pradesh), where it was 41°C on April 26, polling day locally, the commission noted a drop of almost nine points in the participation rate compared to 2019.

In total, 968 million Indians are expected to elect the 543 members of the Lower House, more than the total population of the United States, the European Union and Russia combined.

Political analysts have given Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is seeking a third term, the winner, even before the start of the elections which have been taking place since April 19, in seven phases, until June 1. Ballots across the country will be counted on June 4. Results are usually announced the same day.