600 Million Without Power In India's Second Blackout This Week
The Post reported roughly half of the country was affected when the electrical grid collapsed in 14 states across the north and east. The blackout who down the capital's Metro line, stranded drivers in the streets without traffic lights to dictate flow and wiped out power to bank ATMs.
Airports and "major industries" were spared thanks to backup generators. Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde told reporters the cause was still unknown.
From the Post:
“Alternative arrangements like hydel power have been made,” he told television reporters. “We still have to wait for some time.”
Earlier on Tuesday, a senior power official in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, Avinash Awasthi, was transferred for failing to prevent Monday’s blackout. But officials said the main problem was that some northern states like Punjab and Haryana were regularly withdrawing too much power from the northern grid.
“We are absolutely clueless why this has happened again today,” Shakti Sinha, principal secretary in the power department of the Delhi government, said in a telephone interview. “Yesterday we knew it was overdrawing of power, today it looks like a technical fault,” he said. “The system failed somewhere.”
Monday served as something of a test run for officials. Sinha said many of the major cities were able to mobilize faster on Tuesday to restore emergency power in hospitals and get New Delhi's Metro up and running.
But the government's handling of the power crisis did little to appease users from around the world on social media.
An editorial by The Asian Age said Monday's power outage proved a key opportunity to reexamine power policy in the country.
...Will the UPA-2 government take steps to get the infrastructure bottlenecks out of the gridlock? It has for over a year been unable to deal with the power situation where Coal India is buying coal at market prices and having to sell it at fixed prices. Power companies are running below capacity for lack of coal while new power projects are delayed because of coal and gas shortages. The transport system is severely hampered by bad roads, which also add to the wear and tear of tyres and trucks. The national highway roads programme is moving at a snail’s pace and this makes transport of goods exorbitant. Over 65 per cent of domestic trade moves by road, yet the government is unable to get its act together to get the road programme going. The situation is the same with the railways where there isn’t even a seriously working and concerned railway minister. The ports are jammed, so whilst container ships in Shanghai turn around in eight hours, in Mumbai it takes two to three days.
The major impediment is land acquisition as land is needed for all projects, whether for infrastructure like airports or for industries where several steel and iron ore projects are held up for want of land.
It is unfortunate that all the brave talk of a month ago by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who took over the finance portfolio after the exit of now President Pranab Mukherjee, remains just words. The policy paralysis, red tape and corruption continue.
The Post confirmed these issues plague the country, reporting India's losses in electricity transmission and distribution at 24 to 40 percent, "among the world's highest" due to inefficiencies and theft.
Read more of Neon Tommy's India coverage here.