“Need to create a lightning resilient society in NE”


Multi-stakeholder consultations at NESAC, Umiam on June 22

GUWAHATI: A multi-stakeholder consultative meeting of North Eastern states on operation of the Lightning Resilient India campaign in the region will be held at North Eastern Space Application Centre (NESAC) in Umiam on June 22.

The objective of the campaign is to generate awareness about lightning and reduce deaths caused by lightning by 80 per cent in the next three years. The vision is to create a lightning resilient society through a comprehensive, multipronged innovative approach and collective action.

The campaign was launched in March 2019 by the Climate Resilient Observing System Promotion Council (CROPC), World Vision India, Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), Ministry of Earth Science and IIT Delhi.

“The Northeast has almost 1000 deaths caused by lightning every year with 97 per cent of them in the rural and far-flung areas where the awareness level is poor,” Col. Sanjay Srivastava, chairman, CROPC, told The Shillong Times from New Delhi on Thursday.

According to data recorded by IMD between 1979 and 2010, North Eastern India is most vulnerable to lightning.

“However, barring Mizoram, no other state government in Northeast has mentioned lightning as a major disaster in their state disaster management plan. There is hardly any lightning awareness and safety programme by government in the region,” Srivastava, who is the convener of the campaign, said.

Data has it that lightning kills more people in India than other disasters. The rising trend of lightning has increased the fatalities too, which for 2018 can be estimated to more than 3000. More than 30 per cent deaths are reported from North Eastern states.

“Most of the deaths go unreported as well. Therefore, there is a need to comprehensively address the issue and create a lightning resilient society,” he said.

The strategy adopted is create a network of volunteers from national to state and below level, identify disaster hotspot and address it comprehensively by carrying the early warning of lightning forecast of IMD to community in local language, creating awareness towards lightning safety through aggressive campaigning.

As per the information compiled by the campaign, about 487 lightning deaths have been reported from April 1, 2019 to June 15, 2019, out of which 462 deaths (95%) took place in rural areas followed by 25 deaths (5%) in urban areas or semi urban areas which has inherent protection. 

The expert team of the campaign observed that the primary cause of death is mainly due to people standing under trees and during the period 321 such cases were reported.

“There is a direct relationship between the tribal population and the lightning. Since lightning strikes are more in open areas, jungles and water bodies, tribals staying with nature are more vulnerable to it. Their houses are kutcha (thatched roof) and hence are not safe from lightning strikes,” he said.

Post launch of the campaign, CROPC in association with the supporting agencies has been doing statewide consultations and trying to make the lightning action plan operational before the onset of monsoon.

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