The number and frequency of lightning strikes is increasing globally. The proverbial bolts from the blue are killing more people every subsequent year. Between April 2020 and March 2021, 18.5 million lightning strikes were recorded in India. This was a 34 per cent increase from the 13.8 million strikes between April 2019 and March 2020.

These statistics were shared at a webinar on lightning strikes here today, organised by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) and Down To Earth magazine. The webinar attempted to understand why lightning strikes were increasing in numbers, and their connection to climate change and growing urbanisation.

Some of the states that have been at the receiving end of these strikes are Punjab, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Puducherry, Himachal Pradesh and West Bengal. In Punjab, the increase in number of lightning strikes has been a staggering 331 per cent annually, while in Bihar — where 401 people lost their lives to lightning strikes during the year — there was a 168 per cent rise. Overall, 1,697 people were struck down dead by lightning in India between March 2020 and April 2021.

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