Bhubaneswar: With about 78 people getting killed in heat stroke and 285 due to lightning annually in the state, the Odisha government on Tuesday asked the Centre to include these natural phenomena in the list of approved calamities for financing under the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF).
"Kindly consider inclusion of heat wave and lightning in the list of approved calamities for financing the expenditure on the preparedness and response activities relating to the said disasters from SDRF," Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said in a letter to Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde.
Though the Centre had so far approved 12 calamities for meeting the expenditure on immediate relief and restoration out of SDRF, natural calamities like heat wave and lightning are yet to be recognised by the authorities.
SDRF has not been favourably considered primarily on the ground that events like heat wave, cold wave and frost are very difficult to quantify and scale of severity will vary from region to region and lightning is a localised event which does not have widespread impact, the state government said.
The 12 calamities which had been approved to get financing under SDRF are cyclone, drought, earthquake, fire, flood, tsunami, hailstorm, landslide, avalanche, cloud burst, pest attack and cold wave.
Patnaik said 2,042 people died in Odisha due to heat wave in 1998. The number of human casualties has reduced substantially due to preparatory and preventive measures undertaken by the state government. However, people continued to die of heat wave and lightning, he said.
"The number of casualties due to lightning is the highest among all calamities in the state," Patnaik wrote to Shinde, adding that heat wave as a disaster is fairly widespread and the duration covers the entire summer months.
Moreover, other problems such as severe water scarcity, health hazards (both human and animal) and other related problems are associated with the disaster, he said.
Patnaik said a wide array of preparatory and response arrangements are to be made covering the entire summer months from March to June to encounter this calamity, for which substantial finance is required.
The Centre has already included cold wave/frost in the list of approved calamities under SDRF.