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No progress in setting up lightning arresters in Sylhet

OUR CORRESPONDENT | June 11, 2024 00:00:00

SYLHET, June 10: The life-saving project for setting up 370 lightning arrester poles on the lightning-prone region in Sylhet division has not seen any light yet due to bureaucratic tangles.

The Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) has undertaken the project involving Tk 20.64 billion to reduce casualties from lightning in Sylhet region. Official sources have said the project proposal has been sent to the government authorities concerned for the final approval. But, the proposal has not got any final approval yet due to bureaucratic tangles, they added.

The project came as lightning strikes claim lives of a good number of people in Sylhet region, mostly in the haor areas. The poor and marginal farmers especially are victims of lightning as they have to go out for their work during summer and monsoon.

The government gives only Tk 10,000 for an injured victim of lightning and Tk 20,000 to the family of every dead person. According to reports, about 200 people have died in Sunamganj district alone in the last 10 years. At least 10 people have been killed in lighting strikes this year.

Although the government declared thunderstorms as a national disaster in 2016, measures are to be taken for mass awareness as well as to raise shelter points on the open and vast haors, where people have to work for a long time during the disaster season.

However, recently the department of meteorology has established three thunderstorm detectors at three of its regional offices, including Sylhet.

Although they can deliver signal before 30 minutes, it is yet to be used for dissemination to people, sources informed.

As part of the measures to reduce lightning fatalities, the district administration distributed 34,000 palm seeds in 2018 and 80,000 in 2019 in Sunamganj only. But, most of them are already nonexistent as the long term venture failed amid irregularities.

Officials said due to the climate change, lightning incidents take place even in the month of September whereas years ago, things were limited during the summer and monsoon.

The government now prefers setting lightning arrester poles in the disaster prone areas in a bid to save lives of people, officials said.

The BWDB after a thorough survey in the region proposed setting 370 lighting arrester poles at places under the project years ago.

When contacted, BWDB chief engineer (north east region) Khushi Mohan Sarker has told this correspondent, "We're waiting for the project's approval.

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