The need for steps to prevent damages resulting from lightning dominated the quarterly meeting to review development programmes in Mangalore taluk on Monday.

MLA Abhayachandra Jain said lightning had caused loss of life and damaged many electrical appliances in several houses in the region.

Lightning had damaged crops, especially the coconut and areca palms, he said. “This cannot be treated just as a natural calamity. Steps need to be taken to reduce the effect of lightning,” he said.

Moodbidri tahsildar K. Muralidhar said six persons had died because of lightning in Mangalore taluk and Moodbidri so far. The State government had paid a compensation of Rs. 1 lakh to each of the family of the victims under the National Calamity Fund.

With regard to loss to agriculture crops, the government had paid Rs. 7,464 in Mangalore taluk, and Rs. 3,660 in Moodbidri. “The compensation is paid only in the case where the crop loss was in 50 cents or more area,” he said. Mr. Muralidhar said three houses had been completely damaged while 141 houses had been partially damaged in Mangalore taluk. The government had paid compensation of about Rs. 3 lakh. Similarly, in Moodbidri taluk, there had been 30 cases of total and partial damage of house and compensation of Rs. 81,000 had been paid.

Mr. Muralidhar said to a large extent, the damage had been of electrical lines and connections, which, he said, could not be compensated.

Mr. Jain said the taluk administration should place before the State government the need for steps to prevent damage because of lightning. The issue of erratic power supply was taken up. MLA U.T. Khader took a Mangalore Electricity Supply Company Limited's executive to task for erratic power supply in the taluk. “There was repeated unscheduled power shutdown during this festival season. Why was no information given to people?” he said.

When the official said it was because of lightning, Mr. Khader said: “Then why was there power shutdown yesterday and day before yesterday. Was there any lightning?” he said. “I get calls when there is no power supply,” he said.

When Mr. Khader found that the official was too junior to answer him, Mr. Khader turned his attention to Executive Officer of Mangalore Taluk Panchayat Vishwanatha Poojary and sought to know as to why the Mescom Executive Engineer was not present in the meeting.

Mr. Jain said Mescom could not resort to unscheduled power shutdown under the guise of lightning.

Mr. Khader took objection to the new directive of the State government earmarking to Escoms 60 per cent of Rs. 8 lakh development fund given to gram panchayats. The remaining 40 per cent of the fund had been earmarked for payment of salaries of the panchayat officials. “What development work can the panchyat up?” he said. When an official said the panchayats had to generate their income, Mr. Khader said: “Where are the resources for panchayats to generate income?”

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