The Ministry of Power on Saturday said that concerns about power fluctuation and outage because of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal to people to switch off the lights in their homes for nine minutes in solidarity with India’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic were “misplaced”. The ministry also clarified that people have been asked to only turn off lights and they need not switch off home appliances like refrigerators, air conditioners and computers.

“Some apprehensions have been expressed that this may cause instability in the grid and fluctuation in voltage which may harm the electrical appliances,” the ministry said in a statement. “These apprehensions are misplaced.”

The government also clarified that there has been no message to switch off street lights, computers or home appliances. The lights in hospitals and all other essential services like public utilities, municipal services, offices, police stations, manufacturing facilities, etc will remain on... All local bodies have been advised to keep the street lights on for public safety,” the ministry added.

Earlier, the Power Grid Corporation of India had warned of possible outages and voltage fluctuations on Sunday as people are likely to follow Modi’s appeal to switch off the lights in their homes.

In an order issued on Friday, the corporation had listed precautions for power transmitters in all the states and said the support staff at power stations needed to be on “high alert” during the time people across the country turn off the lights at their homes. The order added that the staff on duty at that time need to wear protective masks and observe social distancing.

State load dispatch centres and transmission utilities are preparing for fluctuations in the electricity grid and possible outages. There have been concerns that Modi’s call may lead to a sudden drop in peak power demand, which was already down 25% on April 2.

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The State Load Dispatch Centre in Uttar Pradesh has written to state utilities to brace for a sudden drop in power demand. Similar instructions have been given by the Tamil Nadu Transmission Corporation in a letter to its operational executives, saying that sufficient staff must be deployed to respond to the situation.

On Friday, Maharashtra Energy Minister Nitin Raut had urged people to reconsider Modi’s call to switch off all lights for nine minutes on April 5, saying this could lead to a power grid failure in the country. “If all lights are put off at the same time, it can lead to a potential blackout, which will also affect the emergency services,” he had said.

Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said Modi’s call could have a deep impact on the stability of the power grid. “As somebody who has been associated with the power sector for almost three decades including as minister, the call to go dark for 9 min at 9pm on the 5th can have deep impact on the grid and its stability,” he wrote on Twitter. “I sincerely hope this is being properly managed.”

An unidentified official told PTI that the fall in the power demand will have no impact on the national power grid. The official added that people had shut off power for “Earth Hour” and the initiative is not something new.

In his address to the nation on Friday, Modi had appealed to people to light candles and lamps or use mobile flashlights on their balconies for nine minutes at 9 pm on Sunday to mark their fight against the coronavirus. The prime minister had earlier asked people come together and cheer from their balconies for the health workers who are leading the country’s fight against the pandemic.