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The big switch-off

delhi Updated: Mar 27, 2010 00:55 IST
Highlight Story

Saturday evening. Temperature's nearly 39 degrees. Sweat trickles and the warm wind blows dust into the faces of weary people heading home.

Come 8.30 pm: Pitch dark.

Candles flicker into life. The city's bathed in moonlight.

Delhi will have participated in the Earth Hour and not been found wanting.

The neon lights, the chaos, the daily buzz of electricity shooting through the overhead wires will suddenly go quiet. Delhi will be able to hear and feel its heart throb once again.

But everything won't go off.

While most houses will turn off everything electrical and go dark between 8.30 and 9.30 pm, the power guzzling malls, markets, hotels and restaurants will turn a dark shade of grey.

Caught between profit and their green conscience, these enterprises will take the middle path—they'll cut down on their lighting, but not the cooling.

So, even though the restaurants, multiplexes and showrooms may look gloomy and in sync with the green initiative, their air-conditioners will still keep the cool.

"It's difficult for a commercial enterprise to join the effort completely. Closing on a Saturday is not an option. We will, however, consume as little electricity as possible," said Sunil Malhotra, co-owner of Embassy Restaurant in Connaught Place. "The guest areas will be lit with candles."

"While all safety equipment and emergency lights will remain functional, non-essential lighting in restaurants, building exterior lighting will be shut off or downed to a minimum and candles used," said a statement from hotel ITC Maurya near Dhaula Kuan.

Select City Walk in Saket, too, won't be as flashy, but won't be muggy either in that one hour. The mall aims to save 10,000 KWH with this gesture.

Last year, the Capital saved around 600 MW during Earth Hour, most of it due to a coincidental power cut. This year, Delhi hopes to cross this mark.

To achieve that, Delhi government's labour department held a meeting with major market associations on Friday.

"We can't issue a directive, but can appeal. Closing shops an hour early should not affect business," said Piyush Sharma, joint labour commissioner.

However, unlike last year, when a thunderstorm cooled Delhi, enduring an hour without electricity may prove a little uncomfortable this year. The weatherman predicts Saturday to be considerably warm with the maximum temperature likely to touch 39 degree Celsius and the minimum hovering around 21 degree Celsius.

Meanwhile, the average Delhiite seems gung-ho about answering the global call against climate change.

Homemaker Kalpana Sharma, a resident of Jungpura Extension, knows how she's going to spend the dark hour.

"I'll postpone my evening walk till 8.30 pm. A few other women in our colony, too, are meeting for a walk in the nearby park at that time," says Sharma.

"We are hosting a dinner party on Saturday. But it will be in our lawn. That way our plans won't be affected and we can chip in for the Earth Hour initiative, too," says Kavita Khosla, a resident of Greater Kailash-II.

For graphics.