Save the planet: City to join Earth Hour switch-off

Today between 8.30 pm and 9.30 pm,Mumbai will plunge into darkness. But the dark shroud will have the undertones of celebration and hope to save the planet.

Written by Shweta Desai | Mumbai | Published: March 28, 2009 12:09 am

Today between 8.30 pm and 9.30 pm,Mumbai will plunge into darkness. But the dark shroud will have the undertones of celebration and hope to save the planet. For the first time in India’s history,Mumbai along with cities like Delhi,Bangalore,Kochi,Thiruvananthapuram,Dehradun,Shimla,Chandigarh and Hyderabad,will participate in Earth Hour,an annual international event organised by the WWF,and turn off its lights for an hour.

Several business establishments,including the Air India and the Reserve Bank of India buildings in Nariman Point,and the Indian Institute of Technology,Powai,have pledged to reduce their usage of power,if not turn off all their lights,during this hour. The headquarters of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and Mayor’s bungalow at Shivaji Park will also go dark for an hour in the evening this year. The civic administration has appealed to all the housing societies in the city to switch off the lights during the hour.

In an effort to make the Earth Hour campaign successful,Mayor Shubha Raul has sent personal letters to housing societies,urging them to use candles and switch off the lights. The BMC has roped in college students,who will distribute the Mayor’s letters,for the campaign and they will be appealing to housing societies to save electricity. “A batch of five students will meet residents and secretary,and inform them about Earth Hour. They will also hold debates and discussions on global warming and climate change,” she said.

Raul has also said that lights of her official residence along with the civic headquarters at CST will be switched off. “We can certainly do without electricity for an hour. It is a good idea to save electricity and sit in candle light for sometime,” she said.

At her personal residence at Dahisar,which also is her constituency,Raul’s complex will be turning off the lights.

“We have informed our ward offices about the Earth Hour. They will be spreading information to the residential and commercial buildings,” said additional municipal commissioner,Kishor Gajbhiye.

Additional municipal commissioner R A Rajiv said housing societies should only use the electricity in elevators and corridors where it is essential and try to switch off the lights in the house.

Several five-star hotels,MNCs and public gardens have also shown interest in the campaign and agreed to switch off lights at places including Neelkant Gardens of Govandi,Hiranandani gardens in Powai,and Bandra’s Mout Mary Church area.

Kicked off in Sydney in 2007,Earth Hour is a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) initiative and an outcome of a study which indicated colossal usage of natural resource in Australia. “It was an effort to reduce pressure on electricity as well as restrain the release of certain toxic gases into the atmosphere. This initiative took wings in Sydney because the mayor of the city supported it that year,” said Goldin Quadros,interim state director of WWF,India.

This year,nearly one billion people from 85 countries and 2,000 cities across the world are expected to participate in the campaign. They include cities in Australia,USA,New Zealand,UK,Germany,Sweden,Netherlands,Dubai,and almost all South-East Asian countries.

Quadros said,“Earth hour is an effort by the layman to put it across to the world leaders that climate change is for real. In 2007,in Sydney we learnt that just by not using electricity for an hour we could save about 227 per cent of power.”

According to Quadros,the success of the Earth Hour campaign is crucial this year. “The UN Conference in Copenhagen this year will have participation of many world leaders. If the Earth Hour succeeds,we can put pressure on leaders of developed countries as well as developing ones to take action. At least one per cent of Mumbai has awakened this time around,” he added.

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