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Theft bolt for lightning arresters in cradles

- School authorities blame lack of funds, district officials call for greater vigil

Ranchi, Aug. 5: If students of several government schools of Ranchi are still exposed to the hazards of lightning despite a Jharkhand High Court order to install conductors, it’s not because the cradles are not doing enough.

Lightning conductors have gone strangely missing from these state-run and state-aided schools, thanks to thieves who take advantage of the locations of the cradles in open fields to steal the arresters. Short of funds, the affected cradles are not in a position to arrange more money to buy the conductors and are now looking at the district authorities to find a solution.

Kitne bar hum log lightning conductors lagaye, hamesha chori ho jati hain (We installed lightning conductors so many times, but they always get stolen). A few days ago, we had fixed one lightning arrester atop our school building, but the next morning, it was missing. We are living in fear of a bolt striking our school any day,” said Asha Kumari, in-charge of Government Middle School, Karamtoli Chowk in Bariatu.

Asked why they were not taking any step to prevent thefts, she said: “Putting a check on thefts is difficult as though our school has a boundary wall, there is a huge open space behind it. Moreover, thieves strike at night.”

Two other cradles — British Public School and Bal Niketan in Bargain — share the same fate.

English teacher of Bal Niketan A. Mahto rued: “We, teachers, had pooled in money from our own pockets to instal the lightning conductor in the last week of June. But some local youths stole it. Our school is located in an open ground. Hence, chances of lightning bolts hitting our students increase when there are thunderstorms. We ask the children to go home whenever it rains and lightning strikes.”

It takes around Rs 25,000 to install a lightning conductor and it’s not always easy for the schools to arrange funds.

Ranchi deputy commissioner Vinay Kumar Choubey, however, said they also provided funds to government schools to set up the arresters.

“We have asked the schools to lodge FIRs whenever lightning conductors get stolen. As far as preventive measures are considered, it’s the school’s responsibility to depute guards and ensure that the lightning arresters are not stolen. Until and unless Gram Siksha Samiti takes action, such thefts will continue,” he pointed out.

District superintendent of education (DSE), Ranchi, Jayant Mishra said that he had tried his best to depute guards at government schools, especially those deprived of boundary walls. “In keeping with the DC’s directive, we will ask the schools to take help of Gram Siksha Samitis to organise meetings and arrange for guards,” he said.