Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Power Restored after Huge Indian Power Cut

BBC's Rajini Vaidyanathan: "More than half of India's population ground to a halt"

India's power supply has been fully restored after a two-day blackout across much of the country, an official has said.

More than 600 million people were affected by the power cut after three electricity grids collapsed, one for a second consecutive day.

Outages caused havoc, with whole cities being plunged into darkness.

The breakdowns in the northern, eastern, and north-eastern grids affected 20 of India's 28 states.

Power System Operation Corporation chief SK Soonee said electricity had been restored in all three grids overnight on Tuesday by engineers from the state-owned company.

India is limping back to normal after power was restored to the three electricity grids that failed on Tuesday and affected 600 million people.

Supply was restored in most of the northern states, including the capital, Delhi, by Tuesday evening, while the east, including parts of the city of Calcutta, had to wait until early on Wednesday morning for power to be restored.

Many people had panicked on rumours that the outage would last for another day, and had begun buying packaged drinking water supplies in several parts of the country.

The media have been scathing in their coverage of the crisis. "Superpower India, RIP," headlined The Economic Times. "Powerless and Clueless," chimed The Times Of India, adding that Indians would not forget the "Terrible Tuesday" in a hurry.

The blackout caused transport networks to grind to a halt with hundreds of trains stranded and water supplies interrupted.

In Delhi, Metro services were halted and staff evacuated trains. Many traffic lights in the city failed, leading to massive traffic jams.

Other areas affected included Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan in the north, and West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and Jharkhand in the east.

In eastern India, around 200 miners were trapped underground as lifts failed, but officials later said they had all been rescued.

One shopworker in Delhi, Anu Chopra, 21, said: "I can understand this happening once in a while but how can one allow such a thing to happen two days in a row?

"It just shows our infrastructure is in a complete mess. There is no transparency and no accountability whatsoever."

'Technical snag'
In a statement on national TV on Tuesday evening, Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde blamed the crisis on states taking more than their quota of power from the national grid.

Dark street in Calcutta, India (31 July 2012)  
Streets in Calcutta were plunged into darkness as night fell
He said he had appealed to states to stop this and instructed his officials to penalise those states which did.

But officials in Uttar Pradesh, one of the states blamed in the Indian media, said there was "no reason to believe" they were at fault.

Anil K Gupta, the chairman of the state's power company, called for "further investigation to ascertain the real cause".

The power minister of Haryana state, Captain Ajay Singh, was quoted by NDTV as saying his was not the only state with overdraw from the grid.

"We are not to be blamed for the technical snag that tripped the grid," he said. "We are simply being blamed for what everyone does."

Also on Tuesday it was announced that Mr Shinde had been promoted to the post of home minister, in a widely anticipated cabinet reshuffle.

He has been replaced by the current corporate affairs minister, Veerappa Moily.
Power cuts are common in Indian cities because of a fundamental shortage of power and an ageing grid - the chaos caused by such cuts has led to protests and unrest on the streets in the past.
But the collapse of an entire grid is rare - the last time the northern grid failed was in 2001.

India's demand for electricity has soared in recent years as its economy has grown but its power infrastructure has been unable to meet the growing needs.

Correspondents say unless there is a huge investment in the power sector, the country will see many more power failures.


Are you in the affected regions?

Source : BBC


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