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Odisha to Combat Lightning Strikes with Extensive Palm Tree Plantation

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government has decided to adopt traditional methods to prevent deaths due to lightning strikes by initiating an extensive plantation drive of palm trees and protecting existing ones from being cut down.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) Debidutta Biswal announced on Monday that the government had decided in September 2023 to leverage the natural conductive properties of palm trees to mitigate lightning strike fatalities. Now, the Forest Department will implement this decision strictly.

“As per the decision, the department will plant around 19 lakh palm trees across the state in the 2024-25 financial year. Four palm trees will be planted near the boundary of each forest block. A total of Rs 7 crore will be spent for this purpose,” Biswal said.

He also emphasized the importance of protecting existing palm trees. “People will need the permission of the Forest Department to cut down palm trees on their premises. Strict action will be taken against those who violate this order,” he added.

Biswal explained that previously, no permission was required for felling palm trees on private land. This led to the near extinction of palm trees in rural areas. However, with an increase in mortality due to lightning strikes, especially during the northwesterly and rainy seasons, the government has reinstated the restriction.

“By reintroducing this measure, we hope to reduce the number of fatalities caused by lightning strikes,” Biswal stated.

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