Bhubaneswar: The number of deaths due to lightning strikes in Odisha has been reduced by more than 31 percent due to effective use of early warning communication system to alert the people, the office of the Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) said.
As many as 401 deaths were reported during the year 2015-16 and 401 during 2016-17. The number went up to 465 during the year 2017-18. However, the figure has come down to 320 during the year 2018-19 registering a decrease of more than 31 percent.
An MoU has been signed between the Special Relief Commissioner-cum-Managing Director, OSDMA on behalf of the State Government and the Earth Networks of the USA to get the advance information about the upcoming lightning with a view to alerting the citizens to enable them to take the required precautionary measures for saving their lives.
As per the MoU, Earth Networks has set up 6 lightning sensors across Odisha and is providing information on a regular basis to OSDMA about probable lightning incidents, 30-40 minutes in advance, along with the map briefly showing the area where the lightning is likely to strike.
The information with map thus received from Earth Networks is quickly processed on GIS platform in OSDMA and the geographic coordinates of the probable area of lightning strike is communicated to the State Emergency Operations Centre for sending SMS alerts to the people of that area through Location Based Alert System (LBAS).
The SMS alerts are sent through LBAS to the people who are present in the area likely to be affected by the lightning strike. The entire operations from receipt of the information from Earth Networks till despatch of the SMSes are completed in 2-3 minutes.
The State Emergency Operations Centre is functioning in the office of the Special Relief Commissioner on 24×7 basis.
OSDMA has also collaborated with the Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System for Africa and Asia (RIMES), Thailand for developing an integrated Decision Support System (DSS) for providing real time watch, alert, and warning information for different hazards like heat wave, lightning, droughts, Ocean State Information and floods.
An application “SATARK” (System for Accessing, Tracking and Alerting Disaster Risk Information Based on Dynamic Risk Knowledge) has been developed. Citizens can download this app and use the same to get early alerts about lightning incidents.
Apart from the above, an intelligent and automated system known as ‘Outdoor Alerting System’ has been installed in 14 most lightning vulnerable blocks of the state for quickly disseminating the warning to citizens.
The siren installed in this system will automatically blow before approach of any lightning and severe weather, which will be audible to the people in the vicinity. The system will be expanded in future.