Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Lightning not a Natural Disaster: Centre


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Lightning

Mains level: NA


Central Idea

  • A senior government official stated that lightning deaths can be prevented through education and awareness, and thus, the government is against declaring it a natural disaster.

Why discuss this?

  • State Demands: States like Bihar and West Bengal have requested that lightning-related deaths be considered natural disaster, making victims eligible for compensation from the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF).
  • Increased fatalities: According to the National Crime Records Bureau, lightning caused 2,880 deaths in 2021, accounting for 40% of all accidental deaths from “forces of nature.”

What is Lightning?

Lightning is a rapid and powerful discharge of electricity in the atmosphere, often directed towards the Earth.

  • Genesis: Lightning discharges occur in giant, moisture-bearing clouds that are several kilometers tall.
  • Ice Crystal Formation: Water vapor in the clouds condenses into small ice crystals as temperatures drop below 0°C.
  • Electron Release and Collision: Collisions between ice crystals generate a release of electrons, leading to a chain reaction and the formation of a positive and negative charge within the cloud.
  • Types: Lightning can occur within clouds (inter-cloud and intra-cloud) or between the cloud and the ground (cloud-to-ground).

Intensity of Lightning Strikes

  • Voltage and Amperage: A typical lightning flash can reach around 300 million volts and 30,000 amps, significantly higher than household current.
  • Comparisons: Household current is 120 volts and 15 amps, highlighting the immense power of lightning.

Mitigating Lightning Incidents

  • Early Warning System: India has established an early warning system for lightning, saving numerous lives.
  • Focus on Rural Areas: Over 96% of lightning deaths occur in rural areas, necessitating mitigation and awareness programs targeted at these communities.
  • Deployment of Protection Devices: Low-cost lightning protection devices need to be deployed more widely, especially in rural areas.
  • Lightning Action Plans: States are encouraged to develop and implement lightning action plans, similar to heat action plans, to mitigate lightning-related risks.
  • International Centre for Excellence: Efforts are underway to establish an international center for excellence in lightning research to enhance detection and early warning systems.


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