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Non-profit, SEEDS, provide solutions against heatwaves in Delhi slums

SEEDS provided unique cool roofing technology to families in Delhi slums. These roofs, which include reflective insulation sheets, dramatically lower internal temperatures as residents observed.

By Jyotsna Richhariya
New Update
tin sheet

A woman covering her house with cooling sheets

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There is no respite this summer, a sweltering heatwave that engulfed the nation's capital, with record-breaking warm nights. On Wednesday, the Capital recorded its highest-ever minimum temperature in June at 35.2 °C—the highest minimum in the last 55 years. Heatstroke cases have surged, according to hospitals, and at least eighteen unfortunate deaths have already been recorded in the city of Delhi. 

According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), a heat wave condition is when the maximum temperature of a station reaches at least 40°C or more for Plains, 37°C or more for coastal stations and at least 30°C or more for Hilly regions. Heatwaves have become a relentless force in urban areas, particularly affecting the most vulnerable communities. As per a World Bank report, almost 75% of India’s workforce works in heat-exposed work environments. 

There are about 750 big and small slums in Delhi, with at least 350,000 families and 20 lakh people,  accounting for 28% of the city’s population. People in Kishan Kunj, Delhi, live in densely populated spaces, with most houses made of tin sheets. This area of the JJ (Jhuggi Jhopdi) cluster has around 307 households. Sonam and her family have been living in Kishan Kunj, East Delhi, after migrating from Gujarat in the quest for work. Her husband, Ramesh, supports the family by working on ferries and exchanging housewares for clothes. Their home, built of thin bamboo and coated with tin, exacerbated their difficult living conditions due to the blazing heat and stifling hot winds. 

SEEDS (Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society), a non-profit, is working with vulnerable communities of Delhi to mitigate the impacts of heatwaves. 

Reflective Insulation Sheets: A solution for tin-sheet houses

SEEDS provides unique cool roofing technology to families in Kishan Kunj. These roofs, which include reflective insulation sheets, lower internal temperatures, as residents observed, providing a solution for increasing comfort during increasing heat. The project also involves community training events to create knowledge about the benefits of cool roofs and other heat reduction techniques.


Insulated Galvalume sheets help to reduce the temperatures inside a structure by 3- 4 degrees centigrade. Since maximum heat gain occurs through the roof, using insulated sheets instead of plain, GI, Galvalume or cement sheets helps,” said Parag Talankar, Director- Partnership and Mobilisation, SEEDS to Ground Report.

According to a study, adding a highly solar-reflective insulation system with roof ventilation reduced the structural heat gain by up to 33.3%. 

“Although the cost varies by size and thickness of the Sheet, on average it costs Rs. 12 per square feet,” Talankar added.

A total of 70 households have been equipped with thermal roofing, featuring insulation sheets for improved temperature control. Additionally, two water stations have been installed.

"Me and my husband sell clothes door-to-door even on these hot days, but these silver sheets help us when we return home,” Sonam told Ground Report.

SEEDS' "Under the Umbrella'' campaign helps vulnerable groups, mainly children and the elderly, by fostering inclusion and offering crucial resources and information. SEEDS' approach emphasizes carrying an umbrella and a water bottle to reduce heat impacts while also fostering community resilience and preparedness.


A woman in Kishan Gunj carries an umbrella to avoid heat

Under the campaign, a health camp was also held at Ansar Nagar, Gandhi Nagar division, East Delhi, this Sunday. It aimed at reaching out to street vendors, women, children and senior citizens. The ASHA workers were trained with the help of doctors in implementing preventive measures against heatwaves.

Awareness drive on the use and effectiveness of reflective insulation sheets

Government Interventions

Delhi's Heat Action Plan 2024–25 includes targeted initiatives for vulnerable communities. It ensures access to shaded areas for outdoor residents, slum residents and other at-risk populations. During heat alerts, night shelters remain open 24/7 to accommodate migrant workers. The plan also introduces pilot projects such as painting roofs white to create "cool roofs" and distributing gunny bags to cover tin or asbestos roofs in slums, reducing indoor temperatures. Additionally, SEEDS (Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society) collaborates with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in the Kishan Kunj area to implement these heat mitigation strategies. However, Savita, a resident of a JJ colony, argues for a lack of government support. She said,

“In our area, it is our community and a few NGOs who collectively try to facilitate relief against heatwaves.”

On Thursday, the Delhi administration instructed officials to rescue the homeless from parks and sidewalks and transport them to shelter homes as the national capital's heatwave continues unabated.

"Therefore, all shelter management agencies (SMAs) are hereby directed to form the rescue teams and start the rescue drive in their jurisdiction/cluster from today itself. The rescue drive will be carried out from 12 pm to 12 am every day during this summer season and subsequently, the report of the previous day's rescue drive shall be submitted by 11 am next day positively," the order read.

Tin-roofed jhuggis covered with old sarees and reflective insulation sheets underneath plastic covers.

Combating heatwaves

SEEDS' "Under the Umbrella" program promotes inclusivity, ensuring that even the most vulnerable people, such as those living in poorly insulated homes and heavily packed urban areas, have access to critical tools and information for their safety.

“SEEDS works to safeguard communities that are disproportionately affected by heatwaves... [by] focusing on public health and climate change mitigation. The program encourages scalable solutions, community engagement, and equitable resource distribution, thereby developing resilience and preparedness among those most at risk,” said Talankar.

According to IMD, for the next five days, the Delhi-NCR region will continue to face heatwaves. Amidst such conditions, individuals and NGOs like SEEDS can collectively provide solutions for the communities impacted by the heat waves.

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