States demand that lightning be declared a natural disaster

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Source: The post is based on the article “States demand that lightning be declared a natural disaster” published in The Hindu on 13th March 2023

What is the News?

A few States have demanded that “lightning” be declared as a “natural disaster” because deaths caused by it surpass any other disaster in the country.

What is Lightning?

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Around 2,500 people die every year due to lightning.

The frequency of lightning was the highest in northeastern states and in West Bengal, Sikkim, Jharkhand, Odisha and Bihar.

But the number of deaths was higher in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Odisha.

Lightning characteristics are different for different regions, the prevalence is more at night and the early hours in hilly states and more during the day in the plains. That is why deaths occur more in the plains.

Steps taken: India was among only five countries in the world that had an early warning system for lightning, the forecast is available from five days to up to three hours in advance of the predicted event.

Why should Lightning be declared as a natural disaster?

The Centre should include lightning as a “natural disaster” to minimize lightning-related deaths. This would help States prepare long-term mitigation through coordinated efforts with local agencies and reconstruction activities to build disaster-resilient infrastructure.

Note: According to present norms, cyclones, droughts, earthquakes, fires, floods, tsunamis, hailstorms, landslides, avalanches, cloudbursts, pest attacks, frosts and cold waves are considered as disasters that are covered under the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF), 75% of which is funded by the Centre. 

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