Action plan to mitigate risks posed by lightning strikes

A first-of-its-kind ‘Kerala State Lightning Action Plan,’ aimed at mitigating the risks posed by lightning strikes, is expected to get the nod soon.

Prepared by the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA), the draft action plan lists risk-reduction measures to be adopted by Government departments/agencies, long and short-term mitigation measures for the State, scientific aspects of the natural phenomenon and standard precautions.

Published in June this year, the draft is expected to come up before the KSDMA State executive committee shortly, officials said.

Two periods

The pre-monsoon months of April, May and the northeast monsoon months from October to December are two periods when lightning activity sees a spurt in the State, the draft action plan notes. This year, the northeast monsoon rainfall is likely to commence over Kerala by Tuesday, according to the India Meteorological Department.

As short- and long-term measures, the draft recommends the establishment of early warning systems on thunderstorm activity and the formation of a special task force for inspecting tall buildings ahead of the ‘lightning season.’ Government agencies concerned should ensure that buildings are adequately protected against lightning bolts.

The draft recommends the establishment of a ‘Lightning Research and Monitoring Cell’ under the KSDMA and urges the Government to encourage research on the risk-mitigation aspects by engineering and architecture students. It discusses protection measures for buildings and outlines risk mitigation measures for people engaged in outdoor jobs such as fishing and farming.

State-specific disaster

In 2015, the Kerala Government notified lightning a ‘State-specific disaster,’ entitling victims to compensation from the State Disaster Response Fund. In October last year, the State Emergency Operations Centre under the KSDMA inked an agreement with Earth Networks for sourcing thunderstorm warnings.

Increase in general awareness and constructive intervention by Government agencies have helped reduce lightning fatalities since 2010 in Kerala, according to the KSDMA. Between then and 2014, the State reported 110 fatalities. Eighty deaths were reported between 2015 and 2020. But the KSDMA notes warnings by climate experts that lightnings could increase in number and intensity due to the effects of global warming and climate change.

Last year, the KSDMA had also brought out a Kerala State Heat Action Plan for the State for the summer months.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2022 10:27:48 PM |

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