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Capital suffers power paralysis

The northern grid collapse on Monday completely paralysed life in Delhi and the National Capital Region.

delhi Updated: Jul 31, 2012 02:25 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times

The northern grid collapse on Monday completely paralysed life in Delhi and the National Capital Region.

While Delhi Metro suspended operations in the morning, traffic signals stopped functioning, leading to traffic snarls.

Local and express trains were stranded at several locations.

Water supply, routine sanitation services and emergency health services were also affected.

Metro commuters had a harrowing time due to the delayed start.

The metro trains roll out at 6 am but on Monday, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) partially started the service at 7 am.

"I was not allowed to enter the station. There was no one to explain how long the services would remain affected,” said Ruchi Sharma, a Delhi University student.

The Delhi Metro carries around two million passengers on week days.

"Auxiliary and traction power supply of all metro lines and depots was not available from 2.35 am to 6.58 am. As a result, trains could not be taken out from depots at 6 am," said Anuj Dayal, DMRC spokesperson.

Metro’s closure forced people to travel by crowded buses and private vehicles.

However, non-functional traffic lights led to huge traffic jams on Delhi’s arterial roads.

The traffic police managed signals manually. Almost 95% of the 780 traffic signals were down, a senior traffic police officer said.

"Most traffic signals became operational by 11am,” joint commissioner of police (traffic) Satyendra Garg said.

Water production and distribution was affected from the wee hours till about 9 am due to power failure at all water treatment plants and reservoirs.

There was no supply during morning hours to any of the consumers. "Normal supply was resumed from evening,” an official said.

Schools and colleges were also affected. "The first two classes were disrupted because students arrived late. Water supply in schools was hit,” said Ameeta Wattal, principal, Springdales School, Pusa Road.

Sanitation work was affected in the absence of electricity and water. Workers could not clean toilets and roads and because staff reported late.

At the Chacha Nehru Bal Chikitlasaya at Geeta Colony, the only dedicated children’s hospital in the city, only select surgeries were conducted.

"We decided to postpone the less critical surgeries. Though there was no crisis situation, we wanted to be safe,” said a senior doctor. Hospital services in the city mostly remained unaffected.

States want cheaper power and thus overdraw from the grid

The Monday blackout highlights the country’s inability to feed a growing energy need.

Overdrawing of power by states is not a new phenomenon and is likely to continue till strict measures are put in place.

Stating that power supply to states who overdraw power should be snapped, former power secretary Anil Razdan said this can be ensured by giving more teeth to regional load dispatch centres, who control these grids.

SK Soonee of Power System Operation Corporation Limited stated that most states want cheap power.

"It’s just that states do not want to look at costlier options and want cheaper power from the grid.”

But the states said this happened due to a growing power deficit worsened by a weak monsoon.

Monday’s grid crash was caused due to overdrawing of power by states with high agriculture produce.

Help from the neighbouring eastern and western grids and supply of hydel power by Bhutan helped in restoration of the grid by evening.

(Anupama Airy)

First Published: Jul 30, 2012 23:59 IST