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New Delhi, April 5, 2020
Millions of Indians across the country switched off electric lights and lit lamps, candles or torches for nine minutes tonight in response to a call by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to show solidarity with each other in the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that has hit the world.
At 9 pm, the time indicated by Modi in a video message to the country two days ago, people switched off the lights in their houses and lit candles, lamps (diyas), torches or switched on the flashlights on their mobile phones for nine minutes.
Many people played devotional music during that period. And some people burst firecrackers for good measure.
In Delhi, President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Modi, his Ministerial colleagues lit lamps to join the show of solidarity as did senior BJP leaders, Chief Ministers of States, other leaders, industrialists, businessmen, sportspersons, actors, other celebrities, and millions of ordinary people all over the country.
People everywhere, in residential buildings, housing colonies, slums were part of the observance which came on the 12th day of a three-week nationwide lockdown imposed on March 25 to contain the spread of COVID-19, which has claimed 83 lives so far in India and infected more than 3500 people.
Worldwide, the pandemic which broke out in China in December, has spread to more than 200 countries and territories and has claimed 68,000 lives so far and infected 1.249 million people.
Italy is the worst-hit with 15,887 deaths, followed by 12,418 in Spain, 9,180 in the United States, 7,560 in France, 4,934 in the United Kingdom, 3,603 in Iran and 3,333 in China so far.
Like in all other countries, which are in full or partial lockdowns, the crisis has hit the Indian economy, too, hard. Many factories and businesses are shut down, as part of the lockdown, and, consequently, many people have lost their jobs and sources of income, temporarily. All offices, except essential services, are shut as are schools, colleges, shopping malls, movie halls, hotels, resorts and other establishments. All sporting and entertainment events have been cancelled, and all domestic and international flights, trains, bus services and taxi services have been grounded. Most people are working from home in an attempt to keep basic and essential services as well as the wheels of the economy moving.
There were some fears expressed in certain quarters that the switching off lights all over the country simultaneously would create instability in the power grid though the government had said such fears were "misplaced".
"Demand in the grid came down by 32000 MW within a few minutes but the frequency and voltage was mantained within the normal range. The drop in national demand by 32000 megawatts shows a huge response of the nation to the call of the Prime Minister," Power Minister R K Singh said on Twitter.
He said he and senior officers had monitored the grid at the National Power Monitoring Centre during the "lights out" period.
"The national grid operator POSOCO and the national, regional and state load despatch centres did a great job with support from all generators; NHPC, NEEPCO, THDC, SJVNL, BBMB, NTPC, all state gencos and IPPs, Transcos and Distribution companies and their officers and staff," he said.
"The demand went down from 117300 Megawatts at 2049 hrs to 85300 Megawatts till 2109 hrs; that is a reduction of 32000 Megawatts. Then it started increasing. Frequency was maintained within a band of 49.7 to 50. 26 Hz, which means the voltage was kept stable," he added.