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Pact signed for weather warning

Clouds take over the Bhubaneswar sky on Wednesday. (Ashwinee Pati)

Bhubaneswar: The government on Wednesday signed a pact with US-based Earth Networks to install additional sensors that predict lightning, hail and thunderstorms about 45 minutes in advance.

The government hopes to provide early warning through messaging and mobile applications to people of such areas and enable them to take precautions. Odisha State Disaster Management Authority managing director Bishnupada Sethi inked the pact on behalf of the state.

Four hundred and sixty persons have died in lightning strikes in 2017-18, an almost 15 per cent jump than the previous year.

"Lightning strikes have emerged as a major disaster in the state. The state has adopted several measures to save people from such disasters," said Sethi.

He said the US company had already installed lightning sensors in the eastern coastal region in Bengal and Andhra. It would now take steps to install additional sensors to cover the entire state. "The system will help in early prediction of lightning, hail and storms. We will be able to save people by warning them in advance."

Sources said the company had the expertise in providing lightning warning services in nearly 40 countries. It provides similar services to Bengal, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. "The sensors will help in early disaster predictions," said former director of the regional meteorological centre, Sarat Chandra Sahu.

Sahu said two Doppler radar centres were already operational in Gopalpur and Paradip to help in early prediction of rains, hail storms and lightning. But the centres effects are limited to the surrounding areas. "Doppler radars were installed at these two places because they are prone to disasters," said Sahu.

The government has listed lightning as a state-specific disaster, enabling the next of kin of victims to get Rs 4 lakh as compensation in case of deaths. Officials have also conducted awareness campaigns to let people know about such disasters.

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