Alarmed by frequent deaths caused by lightning in Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today directed officials to install lightning tracker technology used by Andhra Pradesh, which predicts thunder and lighting in an area half an hour in advance. Kumar promised to bear the cost of the installation of the technology from Chief Minister’s Relief fund. More than 32 people had lost their lives early this month alone in lightning strikes in various parts of the state. Addressing a function on disaster management, the chief minister said that the technology would be helpful in minimising damage by alerting citizens in advance of thunder and lightning in an area. “Five-six crore citizens of Bihar possess mobile phones. With the help of this technology, district collectors, officials and citizens could be alerted about any chance of calamity to minimise casaulty,” Kumar said. The lightning-tracker app has been developed by experts from the India Meteorological Department, Indian Space Research Organisation and others. Kumar said that his government had ensured that ex-gratia of Rs four lakh was provided to kins of a victim of natural calamity within 24 hours. “I have said on many occasion that the victims of natural calamities have the first claim to state treasury,” he said adding that the state had devised a 15-year roadmap for disaster management with effect from last year. He also said that the state government was sponsoring a survey to identify “black spots” to cut down road accidents.
Similarly, strict guidelines had been issued regarding plying of boats in rivers, as part of which overloading was prohibited and no country boat could ply after sunset, he said. He also referred to the advisory issued last year to prevent incidents of fire by asking citizens not to cook food on wood fire between 11 am and four pm – the time when tragedy takes place often.