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Will Mumbai do a Sydney tonight?

Will Mumbaikars turn out the lights tonight? Six young men are hoping the city will do as Sydney did last year. Uma Upadhyaya reports.

india Updated: Dec 15, 2007 14:45 IST
Uma Upadhyaya

It’s a testament to the power of one — or rather, six.

A group of friends was watching television coverage of the Sydney lights-out campaign last year and decided to try and make the same concept work in Mumbai.

Two months on, Batti Bandh has caught the imagination of the city — with even the civic body pitching in with sirens to mark the start and end of the lights-out hour on Saturday.

<b1>“We wanted to help our city wake up to the threat of global warming. And we wanted to do it in a proactive way that would encourage action rather than despair,” says Neil Quraishy (21), a Bandra resident and law student.

Speaking from his flat on Chapel Road, he apologises for the mess — posters and banners are scattered all over. “We didn’t really expect such a tremendous response,” he grins.

Quraishy, copywriter Keith Menon (22), physical trainer Rustom Warden (27) and Shiladitya Chakraborty (25) began by approaching the chief minister, activists and some reporter friends. The young mens’ families rallied in support, volunteering and spreading the word.

<b2>“Soon, there was so much to do and so much interest in the campaign that Keith and I had to quit our jobs to work on this full-time,” says Chakraborty. “I think people are really worried about global warming and were really just waiting for someone to tell them how to help.”

Corporate support soon began to flood in. Over 7,000 Proline T-shirts were distributed. At Marine Drive, Juhu and Carter Road, 50-ft canvas sheets were laid out and people asked to paint or write messages on the environment.

Three months on, Mumbai seems all set to switch off all electrical appliances between 7.30 pm and 8.30 pm on Saturday and engage in community activities instead of watching TV, playing video games or surfing the Net.

“Our mission was to create awareness,” says Warden. “Now, we’re planning a lot more events.”