Agri Business

‘Factor in lightning hazard in infra development plans’

Vinson Kurian Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on January 07, 2021

Every third death from natural hazards is attributed to lightning that has proved to be a major killer as per data pertaining to the last 54 years (1967 to 2020), says the Annual Lightning Report 2019-20 brought out by the Lightning Resilient India Campaign 2019-20.

The Campaign is a joint initiative of the Climate Resilient Observing Systems Promotion Council (CROPC); India Meteorological Department (IMD); the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India; Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology; India Meteorological Society; and World Vision India.

Electrical sensitivity tests have been largely given the go-by when it comes to planning infrastructure development, says Sanjay Kumar Srivastava, Chairman of the campaign.

None of the States is safe from the hazard. Data show that there has been an increase in lightning deaths in the country.

Animal safety, a grey area

In 2015, the Ministry of Home Affairs came out with provisions for declaring State-specific disasters and a 10 per cent allocation from the State Disaster Risk Fund. This prompted Odisha, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh to declare lightning as one.

Animal safety is a grey area and needs serious attention.

There has been phenomenal loss of animals in Uttar Pradesh, Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Andhra Pradesh, even including an elephant, with many such going unreported.

“Awareness is most vital. The crucial but simple act of not seeking the shelter of trees during rain, thunderstorms and lightning alone may save 2,000 deaths annually,” says Srivastava. In a review of the year gone by, the campaign report said that the week July 25-31, 2019 was the most fatal, with as many as four lakh recorded lightning strikes over the country. More than 230 deaths were reported from Uttar Pradesh; 94 in Bihar; 74 in Jharkhand; 51 in Rajasthan; and five in Gujarat.

Breakthrough in mapping

Mapping of lightning is major breakthrough in identifying the precise risk in terms of frequency of strikes, current intensity, energy content and other adverse impacts.

With continuous mapping for at least three years, a lightning climatology can be established. This would likely yield a lightning risk atlas map for the country which could form the basis for lightning risk management programme.

Lightning Resilient India’s research and mapping of lightning strikes have proved it amply clear that lightning seasonality, time of occurrence and intensity are different for different regions. A micro zonation of the geography is required for precisely addressing the hazard, Srivastava said.

Published on January 07, 2021

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