Power restored after two days of massive outages

  • AFP, New Delhi
  • |
  • Updated: Aug 01, 2012 03:09 IST
  • Power outage in India

    A traffic police officer directs traffic at an intersection during a power outage near Delhi University in New Delhi. HT/Raj K Raj

  • Power outage in India

    Commuters are waiting at Sealdah railway station following power outage in Kolkata. HT/Subhendu Ghosh

  • Power outage in India

    Stranded passengers wait on a railway tracks for the train services to resume following a power outage at Sealdah station in Kolkata. AP/Bikas Das

  • Power outage in India

    A diner waits for his meal in candle light at a hotel during a power cut in Siliguri. AFP/Diptendu Dutta

  • Power outage in India

    Passengers rush to buses as they remain the only mode of public transportation after train services stalled following power outage, in Kolkata. HT/Samir Jana

  • Power outage in India

    An attendant using a hand fan to aired patient in the ward of ENT hospital Amritsar during the Power Grid failure in several states of ...

  • Power outage in India

    Commuters wait in line at a Metro station after Delhi Metro rail services were disrupted following power outage in New Delhi. India's energy crisis cascaded ...

  • Power crisis

    Portable power generators provide electrical power to souvenir shops along Janpath Market, during a power outtage in New Delhi. (AFP Photo)

  • Power crisis

    A tourist browses for souvenirs in a dark shop in Janpath Market, a popular tourist shopping area, during a power outtage in New Delhi. (AFP ...

  • Power crisis

    Streets are packed in heavy traffics following power outage and rains in the central part of New Delhi. (AP Photo)

India's power network was back at full capacity on Wednesday after two days of massive outages that blacked out half the country and left more than 600 million people in 20 states without electricity.



"Power has been restored fully across the northern, eastern and north-eastern grids," Power System Operation Corp chief SK Soonee told AFP.


Monday's failure of the northern network, followed by the expanded collapse of all three grids after midday on Tuesday caused chaos across a vast region, paralysing transport networks.

Hundreds of miners were trapped underground for hours in the eastern states of West Bengal and Jharkhand, metro services were stopped temporarily in New Delhi and hundreds of trains were held up nationwide.

New power minister Veerappa Moily, who was appointed to the post in a cabinet reshuffle even as Tuesday's unprecedented crisis was still playing out, admitted he faced an enormous task in restoring public confidence.

"It is a very difficult and challenging situation, and solutions will have to be found," Moily said in a series of interviews with news channels, one of which was interrupted by a blackout.

According to senior ministry officials, the two successive days of grid failure had been triggered by energy-hungry states drawing power beyond their allocated limits.

"I'm not going to start with a blame game. The Centre and the states will have to work together on this," Moily said.

"The fact is that energy demand across India is huge, and we have to try and keep in touch with the pace of development," he added.

The massive power cuts left Indians angry and frustrated in cities across the affected region, as they struggled through gridlocked streets in the humid monsoon heat.

Wednesday's newspapers were predictably critical of the government, saying it lacked the political will to implement long called for reforms in the power sector.

Business lobby group the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) estimated the losses to small and large business in billions of rupees (tens of millions of dollars) and said India's investment image abroad had taken a major hit.

The repeated outages "carry a very negative image of India, when already sentiments about the country are low on account of the current economic situation," CII director general Chandrajit Banerjee said in a statement.

As one of the world's fastest emerging economies, it is "imperative that our basic infrastructure requirements" are in keeping with India's aspirations, Banerjee said.

"The recent developments have created a huge dent in the country's reputation that is most unfortunate," he added.

The government has set a target of $400 billion of private and public investment over the next five years, but its track record is abysmal.

India has undershot every electricity goal it has set for itself in its economic plans for the past six decades -- and in the last three plans has missed capacity addition targets by 50%, according to the government Planning Commission.

Monday's outage had seen the northern grid, which supplies nine states including Delhi, collapse for six hours shortly after 2:00am.

In total, 20 out of 29 states were affected by Tuesday's expanded failure, which also had a far greater impact because it hit slap in the middle of the working day.

 

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