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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 30, New Delhi, July 11, 2020

Alarming Increase in Lightning Deaths in Bihar | Bharat Dogra

Saturday 11 July 2020

Between June 25 and July 4 as many as 120 persons died in Bihar due to lightning strikes. In addition there were several other deaths due to the same cause during the same period in neighboring state of Uttar Pradesh. Several others were injured in very painful ways.

As many as 110 persons died following lightning strikes on a single day on June 25 in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, over 80 in Bihar alone. Others later succumbed to their injuries.

This is a huge tragedy as this many lightning deaths in a region have never been seen before. Even earlier mortality due to lightning in India had been high even though this natural disaster did not get the much-needed attention.

Now with the speeding up of climate change it appears that the risks from lightning strikes are increasing like never before. It has been pointed out generally that the risks from natural disasters are likely to increase as climate change conditions accentuate and more specifically attention has also been drawn to the likelihood of more and worse lightning strikes under the impact of climate change.

This risk is much higher in the case of India where a large number of people including farmers ( who may even be standing in water) , cattle-grazers, forest-produce gatherers, pastoral and other nomads, destitute and homeless people are likely to be away from shelter and caught in rainstorm and lightning conditions.

A system based on lightning detecting sensor machines and related apps is available to give warnings. This system needs to be improved and extended. This as well as all other options should be explored to prevent lightning related mortality. This aspect of natural disasters deserves much more attention. Even improvement of sanitation can result in lower risk of people getting caught in morning rainstorms and lightning in open places.

Bharat Dogra, C-27 Raksha Kunj Paschim Vihar N.Delhi—110063.

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