I don’t know why Dasara lightings set me thinking of load-shedding, Chamalapura, global warming, and a cash-strapped city’s power bill. I know the festive lights have been a feature for so long that anyone who now questions it as extravagance would be deemed out of his mind. But then Chamalapura was not on our collective mind in previous years. Besides, there wasn’t so much talk either, of issues such as climate change, global warming, and energy conservation.
Anyway I preferred to keep such thoughts to myself and, admittedly, didn’t have the nerve to blog it till I read about the Kolkata Durga Puja going green. Organizers of festivities there are said to have taken to solar energy for pandal illuminations and for cooking rice given in offering – Anna Bhog – to the deity. Priests are discouraging worshippers from offering plastic garlands, and using plastic plates and cups in place of traditional containers made of copper, silver, wood or plantain leaves. The use of plastic bags has already been banned by the city corporation.
West Bengal dept. for renewable energy development has instituted awards to puja organizers making the most effective use of renewable energy. Authorities reckon that efforts to adopt energy-efficient lighting and appliances, solar lamps, cookers for public festivities send a message to residents and tourists alike.
And . what do we find here, in Mysore ? The electricity supply officials in Mysore have put in place ‘a grand illumination plan’ (click for the glittering palace photo by M A Sriram ) that is estimated to cost Rs.70 lakhs. They have used 96,000 bulbs in the illumination of the Palace alone. Mercifully, the authorities this year have fixed 15 watt bulbs, instead of the customary 40 watt ones. And this, they say, is done not so much for energy conservation but to avert what they call ‘circuit burnout’.
The public lightings cover government offices, main streets, circles and roundabouts at the city centre. Mega lights camouflaged behind branches of trees in the area around the palace lend special light effect to the skyline. A media report citing power supply dept. sources reckon that the 10-day public lightings would need 45 lakh units of power, not counting the palace illumination.
Ironically, there hasn’t been any word on this from NGOs and other interest groups that have been at the forefront in sustained agitation against the Chamalapura power project. The agitation that turned into a full-fledged campaign made daily headlines. Local papers and the web media, including Praja-Mysore, devoted much space to the long-running stir that ended with the fall of the government that was keen on the project.
Shouldn’t those who raised eco-concerns about setting up a new power plant be equally concerned about conspicuous power consumption ? It is not my case that we do away with Dasara lightings. Instead, Dasara lightings could have been seen as a challenge to adopt energy conservation strategy. Energy savings may not be sizeable, but efforts at making a saving reflect public concern. It may be that anti-Chamalapura agitators do not see an issue in Dasara lightings, as I do. Or perhaps, they have an issue with nerves, as I did.