You might not believe it, but Pune is colder than Mahabaleshwar, one of the popular hill stations in the state. The minimum temperature at the holiday destination has edged up over the past few years and experts are worried.
According to records with the weather department in Pune, in the past six years, the lowest temperature registered in Mahabaleshwar was 6.5 degrees Celsius on February 8, 2008. On the other hand, the coldest day in Pune was February 9, 2012 when the city recorded 4.6 degrees.
After 2008, the lowest temperature in the hill station was 11.7 degrees in 2009, 11.9 degrees in 2010, 10 degrees in 2011, 8.6 degrees in 2012 and 11 degrees last year. However, the lowest temperature in Pune during these years has stayed in the single digits.
“Mahabaleshwar is known to be one of the coolest hill stations. In the past we even witnessed some lakes there freezing due to the cold. If the minimum temperature is rising we must study the reasons for this,” said an official at the Indian Meteorological Department.
Scientists and environmentalists believe that this may have something to do with the growing urbanisation in the hill station.
Gufran Baig, scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, said, “Mahabaleshwar has been known to be a cooler destination due to the geographical conditions and the green cover there. With increasing urbanisation, pollution also rises and heat islands are created that result in increasing temperature levels.”
In the new year, Mahabaleshwar has recorded a minimum of 13 degrees as compared with Pune at 7.1 degrees.
A committee constituted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests had expressed concern about the growing urbanisation in the hill station. “During our visit to Mahabaleshwar we found that owners of big hotels were openly razing a large number of trees for construction of hotels which is definitely impacting the climatic conditions. We have recommended such activities be restricted to protect the environment,” said Madhav Gadgil, who headed the committee.