Lights OUT!

One hour of electric participation.
A world of difference. Global Climate Change wants Mumbai unplugged on December 15. Are you in?

An hour of darkness… for a world of brightness


Global Climatic Change in association with Mumbai Unplug urges Mumbaikars to voluntarily switch off electricity for an hour — from 7:30 to 8:30 pm

There are signs everywhere. Floods, droughts, tsunamis, brush fires, earthquakes, famines, epidemics, depletion of forests and natural habitat, reversal of ocean currents, temperature changes and global warming…and yet we choose not to see our destructive human imprint on the natural world as we continue to trudge on down the path of devastation as a species bent on annihilation.

I have been aware of the Global Climatic Change (GCC) theory for some time now. The media has been effective in spreading the message and every year, as things seem to get worse, the cry for intervention seems to get just a little louder and maybe more shrill. 

Spotlight year

The year 2007 has certainly been the spotlight year for GCC. The Nobel Peace Prize was presented jointly to Al Gore and Dr Rajendra Pachauri, who heads the Inter-government Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The fact that such an acclaimed award was bestowed on environmental crusaders has certainly helped in spreading awareness of the severity of the issue.

I think, we can all now accept the fact that if we do not immediately take affirmative action to combat GCC, our future, and certainly our children’s future is bleak at best. 

Act now

I saw this five-minute clip on global warming (it was forwarded to me on ‘Facebook’) which basically reasoned that if GCC was ‘not real’ and we acted then the worst-case scenario would be economic depression (for the millions spent on combating something that didn’t need to be combated).
However, if we did not act and GCC ‘was real’ then the result would be global holocaust. Therefore, whether you are a believer in GCC or not, you must act because the alternative is the possibility of complete obliteration — in as little as a few decades if the doomsayers are to be believed. 

What can we do

“What can I do?” — Well, there are many answers to that question but rather than trying to tackle the entire worlds problems at one go, I feel changing our own habits and aligning them to be environment friendly is the way forward. Drop by drop the ocean filleth…

There is a group of youngsters that is paving the way for people like you and me to contribute. It is called Mumbai Unplug and it is a simple movement. All it asks is that every Mumbaikar switch off all electrical appliances for one hour on December 15, 2007 from 7:30 – 8:30 pm. That’s it! 

The origin

Apparently this movement first started in Sydney, Australia, on March 31, 2007. ‘Earth Hour 60’ was observed by almost the entire two million population and there were tangible benefits like an immediate drop in the temperature, reduced energy consumption (naturally) and most essentially mass education about the growing issue.

I am excited about this movement because it does not take too much for people to contribute. Just put off all lights/switches for an hour and make the world a better place. Simple yet effective…

The number game

The Mumbai Unplug family is growing in size and stature. There were seven people that seeded the interest group initially (Keith Menon, Shiladitya Chakraborthy, Parth Thakkar, Neil Quraishy, Priyanjali Ghose, Anuradha Jasol and Rustom Warden) whereas now there are thousands of members that have signed up as volunteers.

There is a website and a newsletter that goes out to all those that sign-up informing them of meetings and events. The movement is gathering momentum and I can see it really rolling if the government, corporations, NGOs and people like you and me get involved.


Imagine for a moment taxi drivers and bus conductors educating their passengers about the lights-off initiative (maybe giving hand-outs with the tariffs).

Or perhaps corporate houses spreading the message at the work-place through their CSR initiatives, interest groups taking to the streets with flyers and placards campaigning for the Earth (rather than shady politicians), schools and colleges adding their youth and enthusiasm to the cause.

Maybe even restaurants promoting the concept through candle-lit dinners (several establishments have already agreed to this idea), radio shows promoting this event and going off air for an hour (and coming back for a post-event party), newspapers supporting the movement in terms of advertisements and coverage, TV crews (nope sorry — I was getting carried away — they can’t partake unless they use solar panels) and people like you and me watching Mumbai in complete darkness, maybe together on Chowpatty Beach (or other venues) feeling a little pleased to have taken the first step towards gaining the Earth’s absolution.
If you care about this planet we call home and about the life that is on it then please support this movement.

I have a feeling that if this first step is placed firmly and with conviction and critical mass is achieved, nothing is impossible and numerous other initiatives can be launched from this platform.

What Mumbaikars say…

The campaign will surely draw attention towards the issue of energy conservation. But I don’t know how effective it will be if it’s a one off thing. On our part, the office uses CFL bulbs for conserving energy. At home, my family switches off lights whenever we leave the room. Meanwhile, BMC will not switch off streetlights because thieves would make merry then.
-Jairaj Phathak,
BMC commissioner   

I think it’s a fantastic campaign. We are going to contact our members and ask them to switch off the hoardings for an hour. If people can survive power failures, they can afford to switch off the lights for at least an hour. The campaign should also be implemented in shopping complexes and malls.
-Imran Shaikh,
Joint secretary, Mumbai Hoarding Owners’ Association

Energy conservation is the need of the hour and Tata Power is committed to this initiative. Any energy conservation drive like this one will always have our support. In fact, we have been trying to educate people to use power discreetly for the past two years with a joint energy conservation campaign with REL and BEST ‘I will, Mumbai Will’. The question of loss does not arise because for the last three years, the city has a shortage of power during peak hours.
-Shalini Singh,
Head of corporate communication, TATA Power

If the campaign helps in creating awareness about power conservation, then I don’t think going without power for an hour would be such a sacrifice. I watch the serials to kill time. So it won’t be a great loss if I miss the serials for a day. If it helps the cause, I would switch off the lights.
-Meera Uchil,
Lecturer who watches TV soaps between 7.30-8.30 pm

As far as Railways is concerned, we can’t switch off the electricity for trains. Since around 31 lakh people travel by Western Railway suburban train per day, we cannot paralyse the city’s lifeline by switching off the power. It will only cause inconvenience to thousands of train-travelling people. Apart from this, the Railway has a system in place, where electricity is regenerated in new local trains.
-Bhagwat Dahisarkar,
Senior PRO, Western Railway

This is a good way to highlight the issue of energy conservation. But I am not sure how many people will support it as in Mumbai an hour is a big deal. What will people do without lights unless they plan to go out? For me, climate change is an important environmental issue. Hence, I won’t dismiss the campaign. On the other hand, anybody who is paying for electricity will wilfully waste energy. It’s only when somebody else is paying for the bill that people become careless.
-Debi Goenka,
Environmentalist and executive trustee, Conservation Action Trust     

I would definitely switch off my lights to mark the event, though one has to be practical. Putting off the lights in an industry, where it would mean an hour’s pay cut for a labourer
or in a hospital, where patients would be inconvenienced would not be viable. However, as citizens, we can take part in the campaign and discourage any wastage of energy.
-Dr Indira Hinduja,
Gynaecologist and IVF specialist

This symbolic move is the best way to spread the message to the masses. I will support the movement by putting off the lights.
-B K Goyal,
Cardiologist and Honorary Dean of Bombay Hospital 

It’s a very good idea. We should all support this. The focus should not be on saving money but saving power.
-Nitin Dossa,
Executive chairman, Western India Automobile Association

If they switch off the lights for two or five minutes it becomes symbolic, one hour is a too long. People won’t respond properly. Though it’s a good way to spread awareness, I hope it’s not forced upon anyone.
-SA Puranik
Deputy General Manager, Electric Supply, BEST 

Conservation is always welcome. I’ll certainly contribute to such a cause. Raymonds already has a resource conservation process in place.
-Gautam Singhania,

I think it’s a good idea. It gives out a good signal for the common man and I would support it.
-Niranjan Hiranandani,
MD, Hiranandani Construction

The idea of Mumbai Unplug is a good one. But I think it’s impractical. Instead of switching of the lights, one should think of something big like introducing solar energy and creating awareness about its benefits. There is no guarantee that people will follow this campaign.
-Dharmesh Jain,
MD, Nirmal Lifestyle

This move by Mumbaikars will reflect that we are aware about the agony of power shortage in the State. In fact, people should regularly initiate such drives. It will help reduce the demand for power. We will increase policing in areas to assure that petty thefts don’t occur during this drive.
-D N Jadhav,
Police Commissioner

All about Mumbai Unplug?

Inspired by watching the Sydney’s Lights-off campaign video, where two million people switch off the lights, a group of youngsters took the initiative of launching a similar campaign in the city. Explaining the purpose, Keith Menon, a copywriter by profession and one of the campaign founders, says, “Mumbai Unplug is an initiative to inform people about global warming and to stop taking things for granted.” 
The group began working on the project 90 days before December 15. The 22-year-old says that the date was selected at random. “We thought of reaching out to people within 100 days, before the festive season begins so that people are not inconvenienced during Christmas and New Year,” says Menon. He adds, “We e-mailed friends and colleagues and asked them to spread the message and invite more people to join the campaign.”

The group is hoping that the campaign will push people to start taking measures to reduce global warming. In fact, they have received the support from UN, which the group feels adds a lot of credibility to their effort. “We are also encouraging people to form area clubs and support them in any way they want to make their area green. We will also support them by giving all the material we have collected to people, who are interested in doing similar campaign in other cities,” concludes Menon. 


Other biggies

* 1960s: Silent Spring, a book written by Rachel Carson, led to concerns about chemical pesticides like DDT, which had an adverse effect on the aquatic life and caused cancer in humans. Carson also came to be known as the ‘mother of the environmental movement’ in the USA.

* 1973: Project Tiger was implemented, its aim being to protect the tiger population in the country. It was revived recently after the government found out that there were no tigers left in Sariska forest.

* 1974: Chipko movement began in Chamoli district, Uttaranchal, where villagers clung to the trees to stop the contractors of the state forest department from cutting them. The movement was widely participated in by women.

* 1977: Save The Whales campaign was initiated by a 14-year-old and focused on educating people, about marine animals and the marine eco-system. 

* 1977: Green belt movement in Kenya is founded by Wangari Mathai. The founder received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. The movement prepared a BioCarbon Fund project, under which trees will be plantation in the 2,000 hectares in the Aberdares and Mt Kenya Region in 2007 and 2008. It was to help alter people’s perspective on exploitation of forests and use forest products in a sustainable way.
* 1987: Narmada Bachao Andolan, an NGO under the leadership of Medha Patkar, agitated against the construction of Sardar Sarovar dam on the river Narmada in Gujarat.

The conscious cities

According to Greenpeace, London is one of the more environmentally conscious cities. Since the Mayor of London is very pro-active, the city also benefits. New York too, is considered to be environmentally conscious to a certain extent. Greenpeace climate campaigner Soumyabrata Rahut says, “I am not saying that these cities top the chart in maintaining ecological balance, but they are better than the other cities in the world. A lot of European countries are also environmentally conscious, especially Germany. In fact, it has a pro-active stand in the issue of environment.”

Posted in Main. 3 Comments »

3 Responses to “Lights OUT!”

  1. chica Says:

    Yes, we are IN!! Well, initial reaction to the event was very skeptical, but seeing the enthusiasm in the community have decided to be part of this. Lets see how it goes. Am blogging about it too.

  2. ashfaq patel Says:

    need address of mumbai hoarding owners association.
    with designation of the members.
    please email the same.

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