As Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for all citizens to participate in a nationwide nine-minute blackout at 9 pm on Sunday, to demonstrate solidarity in fighting against the Coronavirus pandemic, Maharashtra Energy Minister Nitin Raut has expressed fear that switching off the lights simultaneously for nine minutes could lead to a multi-state grid collapse and result in blackout in the entire country.

“Switching off the electricity at one time can reduce the electricity demand. If all lights are switched off at one time for nine minutes there is possibility of a grid collapse resulting in blackout in the entire country,” Raut said.

He has appealed to the people to keep the necessary lights on at home while igniting lamps and candles on Sunday, as asked by PM Modi, to avoid this situation.

Earlier, in a morning video message to the nation, Modi urged citizens to light a candle or a diya on April 5 at 9 pm for nine minutes to dispel the darkness and gloom brought by the outbreak of the dreaded coronavirus.

“This Sunday, April 5, we have to challenge the Covid-19 pandemic, we have to introduce it to the power of light.

“We have to take the Mahasankalp (strong determination) of 130 crore citizens to new heights. I ask for your nine minutes at 9 pm on April 5,” Modi said.

He then asked the citizens to switch off the lights at their homes, reach out from their windows, gates or balconies and light a candle or diya for nine minutes. Even torches and mobile phone flash lights would do, he said.

Raut has apprehensions that, “Due to the lockdown, there is a change in the demand and supply situation. If there is a sudden drop or increase in the demand or supply in the grid, there could be disturbance in the grid frequency.”

“Considering the possible situation, citizens and all the electricity generation, distribution and transmission companies should take required precautions,” he added.

At present, the power demand in the state has come down from 23,000 MW to 13,000 MW, the minister said.

Due to the lockdown, the industry load is zero. The 13,000 MW load is on essential services and residential, he said.

“If the electricity is switched off together, all power stations can go on high frequency and there is possibility of grid tripping. If all power stations are shut, there can be multi-state grid failure,” the minister added.

Today, Modi shared an old video on Twitter, wherein former prime minister and poet Atal Bihari Vajpayee is seen reciting the verse “Aao Phirse Diya Jalaye”.

The video comes in the wake of Opposition parties criticizing the Prime Minister for coming up with such an initiative when the poor are suffering due to the lockdown.