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India’s First ‘Annual Lightning Report’: UP, MP and Bihar Record Most Deaths in 2019-2020 | India News

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NEW DELHI: India’s First Annual Lightning Report (2019-2020) released on December 31 recorded 1,771 lightning deaths between April 1, 2019 and March 31, 2020. This despite India having 82 lightning detectors, applications that send alert notifications for upcoming lightning incidents, and the IMD can broadcast immediate lightning forecasts for the next three hours.
According to experts, the problem is the delivery of the warning in the last mile. The report hopes to address this gap by providing comprehensive statewide data on lightning strikes, fatalities and patterns. According to the report, the peak number of lightning deaths, 293, was reported in Uttar Pradesh, followed by 248 in Madhya Pradesh, 221 in Bihar, 200 in Odisha and 172 in Jharkhand. However, the number of deaths has dropped by 24% since 2018. The report has been compiled based on reports received from state governments, the media, and volunteers.
Uttar Pradesh also had the highest number of lightning counts: 1.48.3349 and Sikkim had the lowest, 1703.
The report was compiled as part of the Lightning Resilient India Campaign launched in April 2019, which is a joint initiative of the Council for the Promotion of Climate Resilient Observing Systems (CROPC), Meteorological Department of India, Ministry of Earth Sciences , Government of India, Indian Institute of Tropics. Meteorology, Meteorological Society of India and World Vision India.
In India, one in three deaths due to natural hazards is due to lightning. Nearly 42,500 people died due to lightning between 2001 and 2018, according to NCRB data. Only 4% of these deaths occurred in urban settings and the rest in rural areas.
“The northeastern states and the Chota Nagpur plateau region were identified as lightning hotspots. Tribes in Odisha and Jharkhand were found to be especially vulnerable because their livelihood depends on outdoor work – farming, herding, fishing, etc. And being a poverty-prone area, people live in huts with tin roofs that attract lightning, ”said Colonel Sanjay Kumar Srivastava. , President of the Lightning Resilient India Campaign and CROPC. The mining industry in the region also makes it more vulnerable to lightning.
The data showed that the maximum number of deaths, more than 200, was reported between July 25 and 31, 2019. This period saw more than 4,00,000 lightning strikes nationwide. During Cyclone Fani, Odisha (May 3-4, 2019) received more than one lakh of intense lightning, but there were no fatalities because all 891 cyclone shelters were equipped with lightning rods. But the thunderstorms and lightning strikes caused by the western unrest on April 16, 2019 resulted in the loss of 89 lives in 11 states. It was reported that the majority of the people were surprised and the majority of the deaths, 78%, occurred due to people standing under an isolated tree, and 22% of the people were beaten outdoors.
In fact, standing under a tree is the number one leading cause of lightning deaths in India, causing 71% of deaths, 25% being a direct hit and 4% an indirect hit. According to the circumstances of the lightning victims, 51% died while cultivating in the open field, 37% standing under a tree, and 12% inside kutcha huts.
The Lightning Resilient India campaign aims to reduce lightning deaths by 80%, by 2021, through standardized instrumentation, the early dissemination of warnings and guidance on the installation of lightning safety devices.
In an effort to reduce lightning deaths, IMD established a dynamic lightning forecasting system in April 2019, providing color-coded warnings for the next 24 hours and 48 hours. “We also indicate the expected impact, share the dos and don’ts, and frequently asked questions. The IMD provides a daily lightning forecast. For lightning prone areas, we provide forecasts for the next five days. On the expected day, we will broadcast ‘nowcasts’ for the next three hours, ”said Dr. Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, IMD CEO. These forecasts are generated using multiple sources such as satellite observations, inputs from the Doppler radar network and other radars, and inputs from lightning detection sensors. Additionally, the IMD has also launched Damini and Mausam apps that deliver flash alert notifications.
The report also highlighted industrial losses due to lightning. For example, lightning struck the Banaskantha refinery in Gujarat on April 10, 2019, causing a fire that damaged a property worth Rs 25 million.
The data shows that every year there has been an increase in deaths from lightning strikes and every state in India is affected. And yet neither the central government has reported the lightning as a disaster, nor have most states. Bihar, Jharkhand, Kerala and Odisha are the only states that have reported it as a natural disaster.

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