Tuesday, 5 July, 2022

Death by lightning: Are we doing enough?

Growing toll of lightning strike has become a cause for serious concern. Considering the increasing number of deaths from lightning strike, the government in 2016 has declared it as a natural disaster and started a nationwide campaign of sowing palm trees. Massive public awareness campaigns were also supposed to be organised. But the number of deaths from lightning strike is showing no sign of abating; rather the problem seems to be getting more intense with each passing year.

For example, in 2015 some 300 people were killed by the bolt from the blow, and the figure jumped to about 500 in 2021. It clearly illustrates the growing horror of lightning strike, as most people are being killed in this form of natural disaster.

Bangladesh is not the sole victim of this meteorological phenomenon. In fact, the entire world is in its grip, although it is believed that among all South Asian countries, Bangladesh is the most vulnerable to severe thunderstorm and lightning strikes. Widespread deforestation, agricultural- and labour-intensive economy and poor infrastructure made Bangladesh more vulnerable to lightning-related deaths and injuries. Most of the victims are agricultural labourers, struck by lightning while working in the field.

In order to prevent lightning strike the government has taken a scheme to plant over a million palm trees, which is welcome. But the authorities must ensure that while some trees are being planted somewhere, some other trees are not being uprooted elsewhere. Giving timely weather forecast for all sorts of natural calamities, including lightning, flood, cyclone and heat wave, and making people aware of the safety measures are essential. Besides, we must make a concerted effort along with the global community to reduce the pace of global warming by putting a cap on carbon emission; otherwise, we will go on facing nature’s intensifying wrath year after year.