PM Modi’s #9PM9Minute lights-out call went well, but we did it wrong again

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday urged people to switch off the lights at their homes and light up lamps, candles or mobile phone torches for nine minutes at 9 pm on Sunday to show country’s solidarity to defeat coronavirus. The event of 9 minutes light off at 9 pm on Sunday went off well without and power failure or disruption.

But we repeated the blunder and this time added unnecessary pollution to it. Remember, last time when PM appealed to the people to enforce a ‘Janta Curfew’ in the country and urged the nation to come together to thank the emergency service workers for working through the novel coronavirus outbreak. In his address to the nation, the prime minister suggested that every Indian must come out of their houses, stand in balcony or window at exactly 5 pm on Sunday, March 22 and express gratitude towards the people who are working tirelessly to keep them safe in midst of the crisis.

What we did then was completely unethical and not acceptable, the purpose for Janta Curfew was to stop community spread , unfortunately many people came out in groups on road and started clapping , playing utensils.

This time in “light out” call PM had to appeal to the people that stay at your home and do not go out in group to show the solidarity, unfortunately few not only broke the lockdown, but we also disturbed the environment that just started recovering from the agony that it has been facing for ages.

Some, however seem to have confused the call to light candles as the celebration of Diwali. Starting 9 pm, several cities lit up not just with the light of candles but also the sound of crackers. Many  were seen in group carrying lamps and lights and chanting Jai Shree Ram.

In last few weeks, pollution levels across cities had drastically gone down, thanks to people staying indoors due to the lockdown. Construction services have been temporarily halted while factories and industries manufacturing non-essential goods have been shut down till further notice, further bringing pollution down.

Government data show that industrial pollution accounts for at least half of the pollution in the country, especially in populated cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru and so on.

The level of pollution was so low that residents of Jalandhar woke up to the scenic beauty of the city, for the first time in decades, the residents saw snow clad Himachal Pradesh’s Dhauladhar mountain ranges that are 213 km from the city. And the credit for this spectacular visual goes to 21 days lockdown that was enforced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi nationwide to contain the spread of novel coronavirus.

In the last two weeks, people across the country had become used to azure skies, animals roaming freely in the streets and the sound of birds chirping – all a result of reduced human activity outdoors.

Unfortunately, the scenic beauty and birds chirping were before 9 pm on Sunday when some Indians decided to step out in large numbers with candles in hand to respond to the PM’s call and even burst crackers.

Looking into the fact of human involvement after twelfth day of lockdown we compared the AQI level of various cities on Monday with that of Friday and Saturday and found that the air quality has deteriorated, the results were startling.

In most places, the air quality had been within safe levels till Saturday, however AQUI turned ‘unhealthy’ and mildly hazardous post-April 5.

So the nine minutes of firecrackers and celebration at 9 pm Sunday have definitely disturbed the serenity in which our environment was trying to rejuvenate.

According to News 18, AQI in several cities switched from green (good with minimal impact) to yellow (moderate, may cause breathing discomfort to the people with lungs, asthma and heart diseases) and even orange (poor, will cause breathing discomfort to most people on prolonged exposure.)

Its high time that every individual have to be more responsible towards environment, understand that going out in group will only propel community spread of COVD19 and firecrackers will add up the pollution.

Before this irresponsible behaviour of few citizens, many states reported seeing wild animal roaming freely on city roads for the first time ever and that because of the almost zero sound pollution, low crowds and pollution.

Mother nature have few more days to recover while we are locked in, let her breathe.