Country loses power, Sushilkumar Shinde gets powerful

Aug 01, 2012, 06:48 IST | Agencies

While the electricity crisis tripped 19 states and affected over half of the country's population, the ever-smiling former Maharashtra CM Sushilkumar Shinde also lost his power portfolio, but only to become the new Home Minister

The power crisis that hit northern India turned into a larger blackout yesterday to affect as many as 19 states not just in the north but also in the east and northeast, paralysing essential services such as rail and metro operations, besides causing massive traffic snarls.

“Grid incident occurred at 1 pm, affecting the northern, eastern and northeastern grids. The system is under restoration,” said the official website of the eastern.

The states affected yesterday were Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand, Sikkim, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh. These states account for over half of the country’s population.

Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, who had constituted a committee to probe the failure on Monday, attributed the collapse on the second straight day to overdrawing of power by some states and said efforts were on to fetch electricity from other regions.

“Alternative arrangements have been made. I have put all my men at work. We are getting power from western grid. We will try to restore services of the Metro and the railways first,” Shinde said.

Rails off-track
There was, however, little respite for some 3 lakh rail passengers who were stuck in over 300 trains across eight states, after the power failure crippled such operations across six railway zones in the country.

The Delhi Metro suspended service on all the six lines as power tripped for the second straight day. It normally operates over 2,700 trips a day, covering a total of 70,000 km, to carry around 18 lakh passengers on a weekday.

A spokesperson for Delhi Metro said that after the services were suspended, entry to stations was halted and the trains under operation were brought to the nearest Metro station for evacuation. The Delhi Disaster Management Authority also helped in evacuation. A couple of hours later, Metro services resumed partially.

Roads clogged
In the national capital, and in most other cities, traffic was also severely affected as traffic signals tripped and caused major snarls at intersections. Some 4,000 traffic police personnel in Delhi were immediately deployed to bring some semblance of order.

“Traffic signals are not functioning due to the power failure. We are trying to manage traffic manually. This has slowed down traffic,” said Joint CP (Traffic) Satyendra Garg. Around 4 pm, Chairman and MD of Power Grid Corp of India RN Nayak said close to 50 per cent of power had been restored in the northeastern region and 20 per cent in the north.

Nayak also said the failure was due to overdrawal of power by some states and that a full inquiry would reveal the nature of the problem. He added that every effort was being made to restore supply fully by 7-7.30 pm. He said excess power drawn by one state had a cascading effect on the three grids. He, however, did not name which state had overdrawn power. 

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