2500 deaths every year, yet why doesn’t the government consider lightning as a natural disaster?

2500 deaths every year, yet why doesn’t the government consider lightning as a natural disaster?

Many states of the country have demanded the central government to declare lightning as a natural disaster. States say that a large number of deaths occur in the country due to lightning. These deaths are more than the number of deaths due to other natural disasters.

The logic behind declaring lightning as a natural disaster is that such states will get financial support from the Government of India. And the state governments will be able to deal with this disaster. 

Understand what is lightning

In the rainy season, lightning often flashes between the clouds and appears to fall on the ground, many people get injured, sometimes it falls so fast in rural areas that people die.

Celestial lightning mostly falls in the rainy season. If you are under the open sky, under a green tree or near water or near electricity and mobile towers, then you are more at risk. 

Why does lightning strike

Think of it as if there is a huge electric spark in the sky, and when towers, tall trees, houses or human beings become positively charged, that positive electricity comes out and goes upwards. This is called streamer. 

During the rainy season the negative charge present in the lower part of the cloud is attracted towards the streamer. Due to which electricity falls on the earth. This is the reason why high places like mountains are more prone to lightning. 

More than 2,500 people die every year in the country 

According to a report by Lightning Resilient India Campaign ie LRIC, between April 2020 and March 2021, up to 18.5 million lightning incidents were estimated in India.

According to a study by Delhi-based RMSI, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Jharkhand are the states which have reported maximum number of lightning incidents in recent years. 

There have been more than 100,000 deaths due to lightning in India between 1967 and 2019, according to government data, which is more than a third of the deaths due to natural disasters during this period. 

< p style ="text-align: justify;"> Apart from causing a large number of deaths due to lightning strikes in India, property and infrastructure are also damaged. If lightning is declared a natural calamity,  the damage caused by it will be reduced and better measures will also be taken to deal with it. 

Lightning not covered under SDRF 

Lightning is not covered under the State Disaster Response Fund i.e. SDRF like other natural calamities.  This fund provides financial assistance to the states in case of disaster. 

The calamities covered include cyclone, drought, earthquake, fire, flood, tsunami, hailstorm, landslide, avalanche, cloud burst, insect attack, cold and cold wave. Both the state and central governments provide financial assistance to SDRF. In which the central government provides assistance of 75 percent.

The non-coverage of lightning strikes under the SDRF means that states will have to use their own resources to deal with lightning-related disasters. In this way, it can be a big financial burden for the states. It becomes very difficult for the poorer states who lack resources. 

Which states are the most victims of it 

Recently Director General of Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) Mrityunjay Mohapatra said in a press conference that lightning falls the most in North Eastern states and West Bengal, Sikkim, Jharkhand, Odisha and Bihar as compared to other states. However, here the number of deaths due to this is less. But the number of deaths is high in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Odisha.

Mrityunjay Mohapatra  He also said that India is one of the only five countries in the world which have an early warning system for lightning strikes. With the help of which lightning strikes  Five days from the event or  Information about lightning incident can be given up to three hours in advance. 

The difference of day and night has been seen in different states regarding lightning. For example, in hilly states  the incidents of lightning are more in the night. In the plains there are incidents of lightning during the day.

As in the Himalayan and North-Eastern regions, lightning falls at night. On the other hand, in places like Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, lightning falls more in the afternoon. Here those  There is a greater danger to the lives of people who are outside the house or working in the fields.

In Five states over 60 percent More than Mau< strong>then

Between 2016 and 2020, total lightning in Madhya Pradesh  There have been 2,301 deaths. After this, the states of Orissa, Jharkhand, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have reported the maximum number of deaths due to lightning. These five states account for 60 percent of the total deaths due to lightning in the country.

States with the most deaths due to lightning

In 2016, Madhya Pradesh had the maximum number of deaths due to lightning. After that there were 542 deaths in Jharkhand. UP with the figure of 384 deaths at number three and Odisha at number four with 376 deaths and Bihar with 282 deaths. In 2017, 452 deaths occurred in Madhya Pradesh, 446 deaths in Odisha, 150 deaths in Jharkhand, 263 in Bihar, 213 in UP. 

In 2018, there were 381 deaths in Madhya Pradesh, 299 in Odisha, 235 deaths in Jharkhand, 177 deaths in Bihar, and 220 deaths in UP. In 2019, there were 400 deaths in Madhya Pradesh, 271 in Odisha, 334 in Jharkhand, 400 in Bihar, 321 in UP. 429 in Madhya Pradesh in 2020  , 275 in Odisha , 326 in Jharkhand , 436 in Bihar ,  304 deaths occurred.

What is the lightning strike global warming connection

Why should lightning be declared a natural disaster?

To reduce deaths due to lightning "natural calamity" Must be included as.  This will help the states to create disaster-resilient infrastructure. Along with this, to deal with the problem like lightning, the state agencies will be able to take help. And measures can also be taken to deal with such problems for a long time.

Heat web is also not a natural disaster

Heat waves are also not recognized as a natural disaster under the National Disaster Management Act, 2005. The Delhi-based Disaster Research Non-Profit Climate Observing System Promotion Council had said in its annual report for 2021-2022 that only 16 states in India have declared lightning as a state disaster. These states can use 10% of the disaster relief fund for state specific calamities. 

A study by the Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Science (IISc)’s Divecha Center for Climate Change found that from 1998 to 2014, there was an almost 25 per cent increase in lightning incidents. According to the research, by the end of this century, there may be an increase in the incidence of lightning. According to Cropsey data, there were more than 58 lakh lightning incidents in the country in 2021, which was 51 lakh in 2019. 

Sunil Pawar, a senior scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, told The Print that high levels of moisture in weather and a rise in temperature double the risk of lightning.

IITM has built a network of lightning detection equipment at 83 locations across India, which can determine the speed and direction of lightning with accuracy. Pawar said, "Climate change is causing both higher levels of moisture in the air as well as higher temperatures.

India is one of the most vulnerable countries to the effects of global warming, already resulting in erratic monsoons, intense heat waves and more lightning strikes than ever before. 

Awareness can save lives 

Experts agree to a large extent that death due to lightning can be prevented. Its journey can be decided only by running an early warning and awareness campaign among the people. 

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