This blog explains how the knowledge on Lightning Safety and mitigation techniques is derailed in India.
Wide spread promotion of nonscientific principles on Lightning mitigation techniques are carried by some government agencies and departments for unknown reasons.
Lightning hazards are ubiquitous regardless of the status of any nation. However, availing the existing scientific knowledge of Lightning Protection System (LPS), developed nations have significantly mitigated the loss of lives and property whereas, the scenario in the developing countries is different.
Lightning safety is a vital subject in India. Annually more than 1500 people get killed due to lightning and is considered the highest among all natural disasters. Damage to electrical and electronic equipment add up to a loss of crores of rupees per year.
2. About LARC
We have been involved in mass awareness programs on Lightning Safety since 2006. These programs are supported by some of the leading scientists on lightning science, as a result it gained reputation in several Asian countries. Reports of some of our previous programs in Kerala can be downloaded here in
Note: (VIDYUT SURAKSHIT BHARANABHIYAN is a mass awareness program on electrical safety conducted by LARC) (Lightning Awareness and Research Centre (LARC) is an unit of CISSA (Centre for Innovation in Science and Social Action) www.cissa.co.in. More information can be found on Lightning Awareness in India | vidyutsuraksha
3. Wide spread promotion on nonscientific principles of Lightning Safety and mitigation techniques.
During the last years some agencies claimed to be supported by the INDIA METEOROLOGICAL DEPARTMENT (IMD) are conducting wide spread awareness programs on Lightning and advising several state governments on Lightning mitigating methods. Unfortunately NON SCIENTIFIC methods and knowledge are being taught in these campaigns. One such case we already included as a blog about Lightning protection in India & Cycle tire LPS. (vidyutsuraksha.com) and non standard LPS called as advanced Lightning Protection (vidyutsuraksha.com) (read from the link). Even the cycle tire LPS is reported in BBC, resulting in spreading the non scientific knowledge world over. Lightning in India: A bolt from the blue that kills thousands - BBC News (read from the link).
4. Latest news
During May 2022, Lightning mitigation methods followed in Bangladesh has been published in the media, which was conceptualized by CROPC - Lightning Resilient India Campaign. (Claimed to be supported by Govt of India) (ref Fig 1).
Fig 1: News from the media about planting palm trees, its failure and installation of advanced IOT based LPS.
Following quotes are from this news:
With the plan of planting palm trees to arrest lightning failing, the disaster management ministry is now taking up a project to set up shelter houses and arresters to curb deaths due to lightning strikes.
Under the new project, shelter houses and internet of things (IoT)-based lightning arresters will be initially set up in lightning-prone areas of 15 districts.
In 2017, the disaster management ministry took up a project of planting palm trees across the country to reduce the number of deaths from lightning strikes. However, it could plant only 38 lakh of them.
State Minister for Disaster Management Enamur Rahman said they have stopped planting palm trees. "It takes a long time for a palm tree to grow. Hence, we have taken a modern approach to prevent deaths from lightning,".
The IoT-based lightning arresters will be useful in checking whether an arrester is working properly.
From this news it is clear that the non scientific techniques promoted in India has already been tried in Bangladesh.
5. Videos of training, claim and facts
Video 1 to 4 are from the technical seminars and training classes by these agencies on Lightning mitigation techniques.
Video 1: 5 types of Lightning Protection System, and area protection implemented by some state governments. [comment: Viewers are requested to make a note that the claims of this video about 5 type of Lightning Protection System is completely NON SCIENTIFIC and FOOLISH IMAGINATION.]
Explanation Why NONSCIENTIFIC:
Claim: New technology of active lightning protection devices which are emission based:
Fact: The active lightning protection rods are introduced almost 50 years back. There are two techniques claimed by the respective manufacturers. One is called as Early Streamer emission (also called as controlled streamer emission (ESE and CSE)), which claims to attract lightning and avoid lightning strike over a large area. The second one is called as Lightning Elimination system (also called as Dissipation Array System (DAS)), which claims a theory opposite to the first one (means these rods repel lighting). Both these claims are not scientifically proved and hence these are not accepted as practical. More information on the claims of ESE/CSE/DAS and its disapproval can be downloaded from the links provided in the annex (read after the conclusion).
Claim: Emission based active devices create positive cloud all around. Any lightning developing in the vicinity gets attracted and earthed. So, you may have lightning sound and flash in the sky, but it will not hit the ground.
Fact: Lightning is of two types, positive and negative. If the emission based active rod is creating positive charges around it, (a) from where it always gets positive charge (positively charged ions: creating these charges require energy, these ions are neither created nor supplied to these rods). (b) what will happen in case of a lightning, when the cloud is negatively charged or positively charged. (c) if it is not hitting the ground, where does it go??. The claims are due to the fact that common man does not understand the subject in detail and believe these false claims.
Claim: Hybrid device, which is a mix of emitter based and a conductor for area protection. Jharkhand have made a lightning safe city.
Fact: Lightning itself is a probabilistic event. Due to its probabilistic nature, there are places where lightning may not hit for several years. It may require decades to prove the efficiency of an LPS. Globally there were several such claims in the past, which was proved wrong on later dates.
Video 2: Hill lightning and cattle protection. [comment: Viewers are requested to make a note that the claims of this video is completely NON SCIENTIFIC].
Video 3: Lateral strikes, protection by compound wall and planting tall trees to dissipate lightning. [comment: planting tall trees to dissipate lightning is dangerous. Trees will not work as a lightning protection mast. The safe method is to keep away from tall trees during lightning in order to avoid step and touch potentials and side flashes, which may create fatal accidents].
Claim: Planting trees to dissipate lightning.
Fact: This is dangerous. Please keep yourself away from trees, which is one of the fundamental safety measure to be followed, when you are in outdoors.
Claim: Lateral strikes.
Fact: Tall objects may have lightning strikes on its side called as side flash. The lightning current flow through the soil will create step potentials which can be fatal to people standing on the soil. But this is limited to few 10's of meters around the point of strike. Lateral strikes (which is due to a vertical strike) will flows to several KM's in open area and endanger people is wrong.
Claim: Hill Lightning, Jungle area lightning, River basin lightning, Coastal lightning, Urban Lightning, Semi urban lightning.
Fact: Lightning is same everywhere, the differentiation is only between Positive stroke and Negative Stroke.
Video 4: Mobile phones and Lightning on people due to mobile phone signals. [comment: Viewers are requested to make a note that wireless mobile phone signal attracting lighting is a mis concept. Signals from a mobile phone does not increase the probability of a lightning strike. If the person is on outdoors, the lightning may hit him regardless of him using a mobile phone with full signal].
Valleys of mountains are not safe during lightning as explained in the video no 2.
Planting tall trees to dissipate lightning is dangerous (video 3). Trees will not work as a lightning protection mast. The safe method is to keep away from tall trees during lightning in order to avoid step and touch potentials and side flashes, which may create fatal accidents.
Lateral strikes, protection by compound wall are methods unheard of and are complete mistakes (video 3).
Mobile phones and Lightning: Wireless mobile phone signal attracting lighting is a mis concept.
The IOT based lightning arrester is nothing but an ESE rod, which is explained in our previous blog. Lightning Protection (vidyutsuraksha.com). These rods manufactured at a cost of few thousand rupees are being sold at lakhs of rupees, and is the reason for wide spread promotion.
Over all the mitigation techniques explained in these videos are completely baseless. Hence all readers are requested to be careful against such NON-SCIENTIFIC propagandas.
Your comments are welcome.
Scientifically proven methods of Lightning mitigation techniques will be posted in separate blog soon.
Research papers on nonscientific lightning protection systems such as active rods (ESE/CSE/DAS) are included in this annex to understand more on the subject of NONSCIENTIFIC claims of Lightning Protection.
Note: These papers are available for download in various journals, hence published in this blog with out permission from the respective authors as the purpose is to create awareness.