28/04/2016 7:57 AM AEST

Photos Show Indians Scrambling For Resources Amid Deadly Drought And Heat Wave

Temperatures topped 100 -- unusual for this time of year -- and rainfall has been scant.

NOAH SEELAM via Getty Images
Many regions in India are suffering from severe water shortages and unusually high temperatures for April. A farmer's cotton field in Chandampet Mandal, in the southern Indian state of Telangana, has dried up.

Millions of people in India are sweltering amid a scorching early season heatwave and a brutal drought.

India is experiencing severe water shortages after at least two consecutive years of inadequate rainfall, its government said. At the same time, states in central, eastern and southern India have recorded unusually high temperatures this month, topping 100 degrees.

Temperatures that hot normally occur later in the year, state meteorologist Y.K. Reddy told The Associated Press. The country usually experiences high temperatures just before the monsoon season starts in early June, AP added.

Water in the country's major reservoirs was at 23 percent of total storage capacity earlier this month, according to the Times of India.

Some 330 million people, or one-quarter of the Indian population, are suffering from consequences of the drought, the government said last week.

Tens of thousands of people have migrated from rural to urban areas in search of better access to water, food and jobs. Many of those migrants have left behind women, children and the elderly to fend for themselves, Reuters reported.

Schools were shut in some regions, and Indian Premier League cricket matches were ordered to move from western Maharashtra state due to concerns that water would be wasted in maintaining grounds, AFP reported.

Danish Siddiqui / Reuters
Water availability in the country's major reservoirs was at 23 percent of total storage capacity. A dog drinks water from a puddle next to cracked soil at the dried-up Manjara dam in Osmanabad, India.

India's notorious pre-monsoon heat waves have killed scores of people in the past -- 22,562 people have died as a result of them since 1992 -- and this year's water shortages have exacerbated the heat. At least 160 people have died as a result of this year's heat.

Last week, a 12-year-old girl in Beed, a village in Maharashtra state, died after suffering a heat stroke and dehydration as temperatures soared to about 107, according to The Indian Express.

The Indian government had dispatched trains carrying water to some areas, but many people say these measures have been insufficient. A group of over 100 activists and public figures penned an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, calling the government's drought response "sadly listless" and "lacking in both urgency and compassion."

Meteorologists say rainfall may be normal during this year's monsoon season, projected to start in June, due to weakened effects of the El Nino weather phenomenon.

Take a look at photos, taken in April, that show how Indians are coping with the heat and drought.

  • Danish Siddiqui / Reuters
    The government has sent water tankers to parts of India, including Masurdi village in Maharashtra state.
  • Anindito Mukherjee / Reuters
    A girl carries a can filled with drinking water in New Delhi.
  • NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images
    Many people have migrated from rural to urban areas in search of better access to food, water and jobs. Many farmers' fields, like this in Chandampet Mandal, have dried up.
  • NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images
    Some villagers in Chandampet Mandal have had to collect water from a leaking pipe on the side of the road.
  • NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images
    A villager carries drinking water containers in Chandampet Mandal. 
    Many cattle, like this one in Gondiya, a village in Maharashtra state, have passed out or died as a result of the heat.
Photo gallery Heat Wave In India 2015 See Gallery