BHUBANESWAR: If things go as planned, people in the State can expect alerts about a possible lightning strike in their respective areas on mobile phones.With lightning emerging as a major cause of deaths, contributing to about 27 per cent of total disaster-related casualties reported in Odisha, the State Government is planning to develop a smart phone application to disseminate early warnings regarding possible lightning strikes in specific areas.
Special Relief Commissioner Bishnupada Sethi on Wednesday said, “The application will run on both Android and iOS operating systems. While the smartphone users will receive alerts at least 45 minutes before lightning strikes in their areas, normal cell phone users will receive SMS alerts,” he said.
The Government has also decided to rope in USA-based Earth Networks to precisely detect location of lightning strikes. Once the prediction is finalised, information can be disseminated through the mobile app, SMS, radio and television channels.
Already implemented in some areas of the States, the system would also be helpful in prediction of hail winds, hail storms, dangerous thunderstorm, flood and possible drought. “Once people get an early warning, they can move to safer places if they are outside. We hope that the technology will help prevent deaths due to lightning,” Sethi said.
As per the statistics, lightning has claimed 2,923 lives between 2010-11 and 2017-18. With an average of around 400 deaths a year, as many as 1,256 people have died of the nature’s fury in the the last three years.
While Mayurbhanj has recorded 310 deaths, highest lightning casualties in the last eight years, followed by Keonjhar 196, Ganjam 187, Sundargarh 176, Balasore 159 and Cuttack 158, Boudh has registered lowest 17 deaths.
Most of the lightning deaths have occurred between May and September as the data shows about 85 per cent deaths have been reported during the five months.Though there was almost no casualty due to lightning in November, December, January and February, nine people had died in February 2016.Lightning has, however, been declared as a ‘State Specific Disaster’ by the Odisha Government since 2015 and ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh is being paid to the family members of the deceased.