The Odisha Government has come in for all-round praise for its state of preparedness that helped minimise loss of life and property during Cyclone Fani.’

The early warning inputs by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) were promptly utilised to execute the mammoth task of evacuation of more than 11 lakh people to 879 cyclone-safe shelters. This was a major achievement.

New benchmark set

This went to prove how the State has come a long way since its calamitous tryst with the Super Cyclone of 1999 that claimed nearly 10,000 lives, besides causing extensive damage to means of livelihood and property.

The State has also set a benchmark for itself and other vulnerable States by achieving ‘zero death’ from lightning associated with the cyclone.

Lightning surge is integral part of any cyclone and a large number of deaths are always attributed to it. Based on past experience, cyclone shelters along the coastline are most vulnerable.

‘Fani’ sparked more than a lakh lightning strikes in Odisha but did not kill thanks to lightning arresters mounted over the cyclone shelters. But, a weakened ‘Fani’ claimed 10 lives from lightning, four in Chandauli Uttar Pradesh and six in Bangladesh.

Odisha is an exception here, notes Col Sanjay Srivastava, Convener of the New Delh-based Lightning-Resilient India Campaign. Srivastava is also Chairperson of the Climate-Resilient Observing Systems Promotion Council.

Installation of lightning arresters at the cyclone shelters constructed under the World Bank-funded National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project was a major challenge, Srivastava told BusinessLine .

Odisha is one of the most lightning-prone states having incurred 1,256 deaths during the last three years from 2015-2016 to 2017-2018.

After cyclone Fani , the State Disaster Management Authority reviewed the status of lightning arresters. Out of the 879 installed, only one was found damaged, which was repaired immediately. This sort of sensitivity alone yields results, Srivastava said.

Major killer

Lightning has become the biggest killer in India, claiming almost more than 2,500 lives per year and as per inputs available, the country has meagre lightning-safe infrastructure.

In addition to loss of human life , there are huge unreported losses of livestock and wild animals and damage to electrical equipment running into crore of rupees.

The National Building Code 2016 has laid down detailed norms for installation of lightning and protection devices and each building is supposed to be catered for lightning protection against vertical and lateral strikes.

The Lightning Resilient India Campaign launched jointly by the Climate Resilient Observing Systems Promotion Council, IMD, IIT-Delhi and World Vision India stresses on the need for installation of protection system in vulnerable buildings/assets.