India: Annual Lightning Report 2020-2021 (Executive Summary)

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It gives me immense pleasure is presenting the Annual Lightning Report 2020-2021, the second annual report of Lightning Resilient India Campaign. The biggest achievement of this campaign is that today lightning is a reckonable disaster and all, including governments at central and state level, are serious about lightning risk management. The reduction of deaths by more than 60% in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Nagaland are testimony to it. States like Bihar have gone on war to address lightning risk. The deaths recorded have reduced to 1697 during 2020-2021. We still have one more year and our target till 2022 is to bring it down below 1200. Now with concerted efforts, we have reviewed our goal and we aim towards zero avoidable lightning deaths in near future.

Annual Lightning Report 2020-2021 contains mapping of entire lightning strikes over India and all 37 states and union territories along with its impacts and detailed analysis. The report is of extremely high value and it is very useful for disaster management authorities/departments at national and state level, that is NDMA and SDMAs; all the scientific institutions involved in weather and lightning for understanding the hazard, generation of early warning and solutions to lightning; fulminologists; weather scientists; disaster management professionals; rural and urban development planners; land use planners; armed forces; communication and IT set ups; industries; water management authorities, specially dam; tourism; power industries; petrochemical industries; electrical industries; Bureau of Indian Standards; BMTPC; Ministry of Forest, Environment and Climate Change; Department of Science and Technology; academia; students and researchers. It’s a collation of adverse impacts of extreme weather phenomenon in the form of lightning and ways to reduce the extremities. We aim to develop climatology of lightning over a period of at least five years and de-mystify lightning complexities.

As we know till year 2018, there was apparent rise in lightning fatalities mainly due to rising frequency and intensity lightning strikes. To address the hazard, India Meteorological Department (IMD) started lightning forecasts from 01 April 2019. To enhance outreach of IMD’s forecasts and comprehensive solutions to Lightning, Climate Resilient Observing Systems Promotion Council (CROPC) in collaboration with IMD, IMS and World Vision India and Red Cross, launched Lightning Resilient India Campaign on 26 March 2019 with an aim to reduce lightning deaths by 80% in three years. The campaign, through multi-stakeholders engagement at national and state level with governments, academia, NGOs and communities, has been successful in bringing down deaths by more than 60% within two years. In addition, the scientific mapping of lightning in India as country and all 37 states and union territories and analysis of data with citizen centric approach has been a key factor in scientifically-endorsed addressal to lightning hazard.

Annual Lightning Report 2020-2021 contains mapping of lightning in real time and space which brings out the hotspots and comparison to the lightning strikes in 2019-2020. It also highlights critical communities and assets to be saved. The salient aspects of comparison of last two years data are as follows:

  1. There has been a 34% rise in lightning strikes in the country. It has advanced from 13 800 000 strikes in 2019-2020 to 18 544 367 strikes in 2020-2021, an increase of 4 683 989 strikes.

  2. There are states with very high rise in lightning strikes, up to 331 percent rise in Punjab. Bihar 168%, Haryana 164%, Puducherry 117%, Himachal Pradesh 105% and West Bengal 100% are leading states. States like Arunachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha need to take cognizance of it.

- Sanjay Kumar Srivastava