As Britain sweltered in temperatures of up to 32C (90F), the late monsoon means that India is suffering temperatures as high as 49C, which have caused severe crop damage, water and power shortages, and at least 100 deaths.
In Delhi some residents have been sleeping in their air-conditioned cars — with engines running — during power cuts of up to 12 hours a day. The government of the southern state of Andhra Pradesh has ordered all churches, mosques and Hindu temples to pray for rain.
The crisis illustrates how vulnerable India remains to the elements, especially the monsoon, which dominates the lives of the estimated 740 million people living in the countryside.
The Government is now hoping to change that by funding a three-year experiment to work out how best to seed the monsoon clouds that sweep across the sub-continent between June and September.
The Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, based in the western city of Pune (Poona), launched the cloud aerosol interaction and precipitation enhancement experiment (Caipeex) on May 17. “I’m not saying the cloud-seeding is the only solution,” J. R. Kulkarni, the manager of the programme, told The Times. “But in several different parts of the globe it has now been attempted and found to be successful, so it will definitely help to ease the situation.”
Cloud seeding involves spraying clouds with chemicals such as dry ice, silver iodide and potassium or sodium chloride, which cause moisture particles to expand into rain drops and then fall to the ground.
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