TNI Bureau: In a fervent address during the Zero Hour in the Rajya Sabha, Member of Parliament Manas Mangaraj urged the Central Government to declare Lightning as a Natural Disaster.
According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), lightning strikes claim the lives of 2500 people annually in India, causing burns, muscle spasms, multi-system dysfunction, cardiac arrest, and instant death.
The majority of victims (96%) are from rural areas, including farmers, cattle grazers, fishermen, jungle hunters, and laborers working outdoors.
Odisha, as per the last annual lightning report, records the highest number of lightning strikes. Odisha is specifically vulnerable to frequent lightning strikes.
Despite this, the state has successfully reduced lightning-related casualties from 207 in 2019-20 to 156 in 2020-2021. Odisha declared lightning a “state-specific disaster” on April 1, 2015, providing Rs. four lakhs ex-gratia to the families of the deceased.
Recently, Odisha Government proposed to the Centre to declare lightning as a natural disaster.
Following lightning-related deaths, the state government directed Forest and Agriculture departments to undertake large-scale palm tree plantations as a preventive measure.
Countries like Thailand and Bangladesh have successfully employed large-scale palm tree plantations to mitigate lightning deaths.
The parliamentarian urged the Central Government to declare lightning as a natural disaster. This declaration would enhance ex-gratia support for affected families, offering much-needed relief to thousands of Indians annually. This urgent step must be taken to address the high mortality rate associated with lightning strikes.