Jail for top government official and heavier fines are being planned for states that overdraw power from the grid.
To avoid a repeat of the two July-end blackouts that not only left half of India power less but also put the spotlight firmly on India's infrastructure woes, the Centre has decided to fix responsibility and chief secretaries will be held accountable if states ignore warnings against overdrawing power.
“We need to enable provisions in the electricity act to imprison state authorities that include officers of the rank of chief secretaries for disobeying orders from grid operators,” power minister Veerappa Moily told HT Sunday.
An expert panel identified overdrawing of power by states as one of the reasons for the July 30 collapse of the northern grid and along with it the failure of the eastern and north-eastern grids on July 31 that left more than 600 million people, or half of India, without power — arguably the world’s biggest outage.
In a telephone interview to HT, Moily said states so far were getting away with such indiscipline (overdrawing power) by paying fine.
“As enforcement of such strict penalties is difficult, I'm planning to bring a legislation and if needed, amend Electricity Act, 2003, to ensure that the enforcement powers of the grid operators are really strengthened.”
HT had written on August 1 how the operators were powerless in checking states from drawing excessive power.
An independent regulator for states was also needed, the minister said.
The electricity act allows to cut from the grid the states that overdraw power, which basically means a blackout. “The persons who are responsible should be punished and not innocent citizens,” Moily said.
Citing the report of the panel that probed the July outages, he said along with overdrawal, overloading, too, led to the collapse.
The panel found that Haryana drew 25.5% more than its allotted share of power, Uttar Pradesh 20.8% and Punjab 5.5% leading to the July 30 eight-state blackout, HT wrote on August 18. The three states again were blamed for the monster 21-state outage of July 31.