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Lightning is a Bigger Killer than Earthquakes and Floods in India

Over 100 deaths were reported due to lightning on Tuesday in Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh with 57 from Bihar alone.

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Lightning. Image source: www.noaanews.noaa.gov
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  • In 2014, at least 2,582 people died in lightning strikes
  • Victims of lightning isn’t recognized by the national-level official disaster relief policy for providing proper compensation from the national calamity relief funds
  • Lightning strikes are going to get worse in the coming years due to global warming

Are you aware of the natural disaster that kills thousands every year? Well, if you are guessing it as earthquake or flood, then you are wrong for sure. Every year, over 2500 deaths per year, most of the villages are still unequipped to handle lightning. What’s worse?Lightning is not recognized as a natural disaster under the national-level official disaster relief policy for providing proper compensation to the families of victims from the national calamity relief funds.

Over 100 deaths were reported due to lightning on Tuesday, June 21, in Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh with 57 from Bihar alone and an emergency meeting of the cabinet was quickly called in Bihar and compensation for victims was also announced. Rather than providing such compensations, a more regular provision at the national level in the calamity relief funds should be made available.

Lightning isn’t always fatal but the injuries from it can be very painful and specialized treatment must be provided immediately. So the policy-makers should not only keep the matter of compensation in mind but the facilities for proper medical care must also be provided so that some lives can be saved.

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The Institute of Land and Disaster Management and the Government of Kerala, had examined the data on the leading natural disasters for 45 years (1967-2012) and concluded that 39% of all deaths had been caused by lightning – compared to 18% by floods, says the Wire report.  In 2014, at least 2,582 people died in lightning strikes, according to the government.

According to thewire.in report, Jharkhand, Bihar, Assam, Orissa, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and the Himalayan region are most affected by lightning and produce the highest number of deaths. Most of the victims are women and children.

With little or no protective steps taken against lightning in villages, it is the people living in the rural that is affected the most. Farmers, field workers, nomads and forest workers have been particularly vulnerable to death by lightning.

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“It is mentioned under ‘death due to natural causes’, implying that it affects everyone equally. Yet it affects the villagers most, and since most poor people still stay in villages, it affects the poor disproportionately. Those who work in the fields or have to go around with herds of cows and goats or have to go out into the forests are more likely to suffer. Easily several scores of people die due to this every year in rural districts.” said Dr. Yogesh Jain, who treats lightning victims at a rural hospital in Bilaspur district, Chhattisgarh.

A lightning conductor. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Though natural disasters are predictable, it is hard to pinpoint where and when it will take place. Lightning can strike anywhere and anytime in the zone. Hence protective measures must be deployed wherever necessary. Lightning conductors should be readily available close to the areas more affected by lightning. The hospitals should be well-equipped to handle a significant number of patients. These precautions are necessary to save the lives of all those injured by lightning.

The lightning strikes are going to get worse in the coming years, say scientists. A team of scientists from the University of California, Berkeley, found that lightning would be expected to increase by about 12 percent per degree Celsius of warming which means about a 50 percent rise over the 21st century due to global warming.

-The report is compiled by a staff-writer at NewsGram.

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Lightning Kills More People in India Than Floods, Quakes

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  • devika todi

    the statistics are shocking! the government should take provisions to ensure that the people in the rural areas are well equipped to deal with lightning.

  • Aparna Gupta

    Recently around forty persons lost their lives due to lightening. It is better to take appropritae measures during lightening.

Next Story

Small Farmers in Asia Miss Out On Climate Change Resilient Seeds

East-West Seed has built a successful business focusing purely on smallholders

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pollution, seeds
Women farmers use sticks to make holes in the soil for seeds, on a farm near Pangalengan, West Java, Indonesia. VOA

Millions of smallholder farmers in South and Southeast Asia are missing out on new, resilient seeds that could improve their yields in the face of climate change, according to an index published Monday.

The 24 top seed companies fail to reach four-fifths of the region’s 170 million smallholder farmers for reasons such as poor infrastructure, high prices and lack of training, the Access to Seeds Index found.

Access to seeds bred to better withstand changing weather conditions such as higher temperatures is vital as farmers battle loss of productivity due to climate change, said Ido Verhagen, head of the Access to Seeds Foundation, which published the index.

Egypt, pollution, seeds
A farmer burns rice straw at his field in Qalyub, causing a “black cloud” of smoke that spreads across the Nile valley, near the agricultural road which leads to the capital city of Cairo, Egypt. VOA

“We see increasing demands for new varieties, because [farmers] are affected by climate change,” Verhagen told Reuters.

“If we want to feed a growing population, if we want to tackle climate change, if we want to go towards a more sustainable food system, we have to start with seeds,” he said.

Smallholder farmers managing between one to 10 hectares of land provide up to 80 percent of the food supply in Asia, said the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

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FILE – Farmer sifts wheat crop at a farm on the outskirts of western Indian city of Ahmedabad. VOA

But traditional methods of preserving seeds from harvests are not always sufficient to cope with a changing climate.

About 340 million people were hungry in 2017 in South and Southeast Asia, a number that has barely changed since 2015, according to latest figures from the United Nations.

“The question is how to get markets to provide the varieties [of seeds] that farmers want, at prices that they’re able to pay,” said Shawn McGuire, agricultural officer at the FAO.

Some smaller companies are leading the way in helping smallholders access more resilient seeds, Verhagen said, such as Thailand-based East-West Seed which topped the index ahead of global giants Bayer and Syngenta, which ranked second and third.

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Indian Farmers causing smog in Pakistan. wikimedia commons

East-West Seed has built a successful business focusing purely on smallholders, he said, while Indian companies Acsen HyVeg and Namdhari, ranked sixth and seventh respectively, have also reached small-scale farmers with seeds.

Also Read: Climate Change’s Fight Harder Than Thought: Study

The index, funded by the Dutch government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, ranks companies based on seven areas including strategies to help small farmers and supporting conservation. (VOA)