Massive palm plantation to check lightning deaths in Odisha
“Studies have found palm trees are useful in preventing lightning strikes. Accordingly, the Forest and Agriculture departments have been suggested to take measures for their plantation.”
BHUBANESWAR: Amid an alarming rise in lightning deaths, the state government on Friday asked the Forest and Agriculture departments to take up large-scale plantations of palm trees as an effective mitigation measure against such casualties, especially in rural pockets. The government’s move comes days after it urged the Centre to include lightning in the list of natural disasters in view of the large number of deaths caused by the natural phenomenon every year.
Special relief commissioner (SRC) Satyabrata Sahu who chaired an inter-departmental meeting for the implementation of disaster resilient projects under the Disaster Mitigation Fund asked officials of the Forest and Environment and Agriculture departments to take up massive palm tree plantations in reserve forests and other vulnerable districts to reduce lightning-related hazards.
“Studies have found palm trees are useful in preventing lightning strikes. Accordingly, the Forest and Agriculture departments have been suggested to take measures for their plantation,” said OSDMA MD and additional SRC Gyana Ranjan Das.
Scientists and experts too opined that palm trees should be planted on a large scale to prevent lightning deaths in the state. Senior scientist at Bhubaneswar Meteorological Centre Uma Shankar Das said palm trees often act as a shield against lightning. “These trees, being the tallest ones in their surroundings, act as good natural conductors during lightning strikes and prevent hazards,” Das said.
He further said around 60 per cent of lightning deaths in the state occur while people take shelter under trees. “This is where palm trees act as life's saviour. Apart from being a good conductor, these trees are least preferred by farmers and labourers looking for shelter during rain and lightning,” he said.
Experts said the plantation of palm trees has reduced drastically over the years. Those existing are being chopped down for domestic purposes as well as for smuggling to neighbouring states for boat making, they said.
Though the Forest department in 2018 had asked all regional chief conservators of forest and DFOs to promote palm tree plantation along roads, reserve forests, and cultivable lands surrounding villages, the attempt remained unsuccessful.
Studies have found palm trees are useful in preventing lightning strikes
Forest and Agriculture departments asked to take measures for planting palm trees
923 deaths in the state due to lightning in three years
The state has demanded Centre to declare lightning a natural disaster