Jolted by the death of a young cricketer from a lightning strike at Vivekananda Park, Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) has decided to install lightning protection systems at major parks across the city to prevent a recurrence of last Sunday’s accident. The electrical department at KMC has finalised a tender that is expected to be floated in the next few days. “We will create a protective cover against lightning in prominent parks. The work will be done in phases. In the first phase, places like Vivekananda Park, Deshapriya Park and Maddox Square in south Kolkata and Deshbandhu Park in the north will get protection against lightning,” said a senior official. After the first phase, 10 more parks will be taken up. This month alone, lightning strikes have claimed 33 lives in the state. The death of Debabrata Pal in Vivekananda Park where hundreds of children practice cricket daily has led to the realisation that even Kolkata is not immune to the threat. According to the KMC plan, lightning arresters will be installed on solar panels or on high lighting masts. “We will install multiple arresters in every park to ensure maximum coverage. In case of a lightning strike, these arresters will draw the lightning and provide a lessresistant path for the charge to travel to the ground,” said member mayor-in-council Debasish Kumar. Lightning protection systems typically comprise a copper rod or arrester from which a long strip of copper extends into the ground where it culminates in a metal plate or series of rods buried in the earth. This helps dissipate the lightning’s charge into the surrounding soil. Each lightning system will cost Rs 50,000 and protecting them against theft will be a challenge. In the past, solar panels and lights have been stolen from several parks, including Deshapriya Park. Now, the civic body may install CCTV cameras at the sites to check pilferage.
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