A 17-year-old power transformer caught fire and exploded inside the 135MW Rajghat power station on Sunday afternoon. Panic spread in the area, prompting the chief secretary and power minister to rush to the spot. Thankfully, there were no casualties.
It took 27 fire-tenders close to an hour to douse the flames and declare the premises safe. By that time, the periphery of the power station had been evacuated of local stall owners and tourists at Rajghat.
Passersby on the adjacent Ring Road could see huge clouds of black smoke billowing from the blaze.
Officials of the power station claimed that overheating of the 100MVA transformer could be the reason for the fire. As is the norm, the Central Electricity Authority will now investigate the incident.
Also, the state government has constituted a committee to carry out a probe at a local level and file a report within 24 hours.
“There could have been maintenance issues with the transformer since we were about to shut down the plant. The inquiry will ascertain the exact cause,” Delhi power minister Haroon Yusuf said.
Rajghat has two transformers installed at a yard adjacent to the turbines. While the turbines generate the power, transformers are needed to wheel electricity out. The other 100MVA transformer, though safe, has been shut down as a precaution, officials said.
The Rajghat power station has outlived its utility after having been commissioned in 1989, and was due to be decommissioned later this year. It produces less than 3% of Delhi’s overall power needs.
Several areas in central Delhi went without power during the day for over an hour even as officials claimed that the disruption did not last for more than 15 minutes.
One of the reasons why the Rajghat plant has not been decommissioned is that the 1,500MW gas-based Bawana plant was delayed in starting operation this year, thanks to the non-availability of fuel.