Mangaluru: Plans afoot to mitigate lightning damage with 'lightning arresters'

10:25 AM Apr 30, 2022 | Team Udayavani |

Mangaluru: The incidences of lightning strikes and associated life and property loss are on the rise in coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada, and Udupi, especially during the Monsoon season. To mitigate such events, the government has decided to undertake a major plan for the safety of coastal residents.


The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) of the Union government, under its pioneer project National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (NCRMP), will install “lightning arrestors” in the coastal districts. Around 200 lightning arrestors are expected to the installed in Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, and Uttara Kannada districts alone.

Plans are afoot to install lightning rods on public structures within 10 kilometers radius of the coastline, including bus stations, school and panchayat offices, and health centers. A detailed Project Report (DPR) has been prepared by the National Institute of Technology Karnataka (NITK) for the same. As per it, the first phase of the project will be implemented at an estimated cost of Rs 11 Crores.

Project manager of NCRMP, Rajkumar Poojary said that the DPR has been sent to the government after a thorough study by experts. The tender process is expected to be finalized by September, with the sanction expected by the end of August, he said.

However, the proposal is silent on the 2014 proposal that identified 11 areas of Dakshina Kannada for installing lightning protection. There is no mention of this proposal in the NCRMP scheme documents.


Need mostly felt in rural areas

Most urban buildings, especially high rises, have lightning protection installed. But in rural areas, there is hardly any awareness about the need and the technology available for protection from lightning. In such situations, most of the lightning-related damage is reported from the villages adjoining cities.

Dangers of coconut trees

The coconut palms that dot the landscape also compound the problem. Physicist and Director of Pilikula Regional Science Center Dr. K V Rao said that lightning looks for the shortest path to the ground from the clouds.  Usually, clouds have a positive charge, and the ground is negatively charged. The general height and the pointy ends of the coconut palm create the shortest path for the lightning to reach the earth. Coconut trees should not be planted close to houses, he said.

However, the damage from lightning can be minimized by installing adequate protection equipment, Dr. Rao said. Installing lightning arresters for electrical circuits, proper earthing arrangements and lighting rods and meshes on structures provide an alternate path for the electricity to flow. This can reduce the impact of lightning, he said.


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