Lightning Deaths On Rise

Lightning has turned out to be a major disaster in the State. 

Most of the hapless rural poor, mostly farmers and agricultural workers are facing the wrath of this natural tragedy at alarming regularity.  The total number of reported deaths due to different disasters during last three years—from 2015-16 to 2017-18 is 4,689. 

On an average, 419 deaths occur per annum in the State and it is on rise causing concern for the State Administration. 

Out of this, the number of deaths due to lightning accounts for about 27 percent of total number of disaster casualties. 

The latest report on lightning related deaths prepared by the Special Relief Organization (SRO) reveals that as many as 1,256 lightning deaths have occurred in the State during the last three years — from 2015-16 to 2017-18. 

While in 2015-16, at least 399 people fell prey to lightning, in 2016-17, the number was 397 and in 2017-18 at least 460 causalities occurred totalling 1,256 in three years. Looking at the rising number of deaths due to lightning and causalty of the bread earning people of the families, lightning has been declared as a ‘State Specific Disaster’ by the Government of Odisha, said Bishnupada Sethi, Secretary Disaster Management and Special Relief Commissioner (SRC).. 

Mr.Sethi said that ex-gratia at the rate of Rs 4 lakh is being paid to the next of kin of the deceased from the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF).  Prior to the same, ex-gratia for death due to lightning was being paid from Chief Minister’s Relief Fund (CMRF), said sources.  While lightning deaths are occurring in all 30 districts, Mayurbhanj tops the list. The highest 130 deaths occurred in Mayurbhanj district followed by 95 in Balasore district and 89 in both Ganjam and Keonjhar districts during this period of three years. 

More than 30 deaths occurred in 18 districts in the last three years. Blockwise, the highest 18 deaths occurred in Bhadrak block of Bhadrak district followed by 17 in Remuna block of Balasore district and 15 both in Jaleswar block of Balasore district and Keonjhar block of Keonjhar district. In remaining 272 blocks, the death toll remained less than 10. There is no report of death due to lightning from the remaining 21 blocks.

Most of the lightning deaths occurred during the months from May to September. Out of the total, 1,256 lightning deaths occurred in three years. As many as 1,069 deaths, more than 85 percent, occurred during May (209) June (231) July (264) August (192) and September (173) Less number of deaths occurred in the months of April (89) and October (62) compared to the above months.

There is almost no casualty due to lightning in the months of November, December, January and February.  However, nine people died in February 2016. 

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