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Lightning On Experts Glare

Odisha Government today set up an Expert Body to ascertain the reason for high incidence of lightning in the state, where on ana average 400 people are dying in a year and at least 257 people have been killed due to it so far this year. 

 
An everage of 400 people die due to lightning per year in Odisha. The expert committee will assertain the rise in the lightning incidents in the State," Revenue and Disaster Mangement Minister Maheswar Mohanty chaired a high level meeting in which the decision on the committee was taken.
 
Lightning casualty rate is the highest in Odisha, which recorded 401 lightning deaths in 2015-16 and 398 deaths in 2016-17, Special Releif Commissioner (SRC) Bishnupada Sethi revealed.
 
He said that a total of 2,000 deaths were being reported in the country every year.
 
SRC said the victims of lightning are mostly farmers who work in open fields and suggested awareness campaign to reduce the casualty rate. The  Committee will comprise officials of Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA) and Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) office.
 
"The officials of OSDMA and SRC will conduct a detailed study and analysis of the postmortem reports of the persons killed in the lightning," he said.
 
SRC  Mr.Sethi said that apart from postmortem reports, a detailed analysis will be done regarding the timing of deaths and place whether urban or rural so as to chalk out a comprehensive strategy. He said lightning incidents are more frequent from May to August (about 71 per cent) and occur more in coastal belts
in the state. High occurrence of lightning has been reported from Mayurbhanj, Ganjam, Keonjhar, Sundergarh, Cuttack, Balasore, Dhenkanal, Jajpur, Khurda and Nayagarh.
 
As per a release by the SRC office, as many as 1.5 lakh lightning awareness posters have been printed and distributed by June 2017 to all the 30 districts for generating massive awareness among rural communities.
 
The district education officers have acted pro-actively to affix awareness posters at important places like schools, gram panchayats, AWCs, ANM centres, bus stands, railway stations, veterinary dispensaries, MCS/MFS, etc. Awareness was also spread through various vernacular television channels and All India Radio involving experts from India Meteorological Department, Odisha State Disaster Mitigation Authority and Special Relief Commissioner office in July-August 2017 including live shows. 
 
Lightning has been declared as a State Specific Disaster from April 1, 2015. The ex-gratia payment to families of victims has been fixed at Rs 4 lakh by the State government while the compensation for loss of limb or eye (s) is Rs 59,1000 per person when the disability is between 40pc to 60 pc and Rs 2 lakh per person when the disability is more than 60 pc. Besides, victims who require hospitalization for more than a week are eligible for Rs 12,700 while those who need to be admitted in a hospital for less than a week are given Rs 4,300. The ex-gratia also includes milch animals.
 
Those who lose milch animals including buffalo, cow, camen, yak, etc are given Rs 30,000 while those who lose sheep, goat, pig are given Rs 3,000. The compensation for draught animals including camel, horse, bullock, etc is Rs 25,000 while the ex-gratia for loss of calf, donkey, pony or mule has been fixed at Rs 16,000. 
 
SRC has issued lightning safety tips. The safety tips for persons who are outdoors during lightning include finding shelter in building (not canopy), avoiding high ground and avoiding machinery. Besides activities like flying kites, swimming, carrying umbrella, getting inside a car.bus, standing under tall objects, avoiding open areas  should be avoided during lightning. Crouching down and covering ears is one of the ways to avoid getting hit by lightning. People who are indoors should stay away from windows, refrain from using telephone, avoid bathing, avoid leaning on walls, avoid electronic equipment, avoid washing dishes and unplug electronic appliances. 
 
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), in a release stated the 30/30 rule to avoid getting hit by lightning. The rule involves seeking shelter if the time between lightning flash and the rumble of thunder is 30 seconds or less. Activities should be resumed until 30 seconds after the last audible thunder. Besides, after one sees lightning, he/she should count the number of second until one hears thunder.
 
The number of seconds should be divided by 5 to get the distance in miles to the lightning flash. The safest place during lightning is indoors or in a vehicle. A single stroke of lightning involves current as great as 1,00,000 amperes which is more than sufficient to electrocute both animals and human beings. The speed of lght is 3,00,000,000 meters per second while the speed of thunder/sound is 340 meters per second.
 
The IMD release said that the warning signals of lightning makes hair stand and tingling of skin. Standing upright may act as a lightning rod and should be avoided. 


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