July 31, 2012
620 Million People Left Without Power In India After Blackout
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
The world's largest blackout took place on Tuesday, as 620 million people were left without government supplied electricity in India for several hours.
Officials said hundreds of trains were stalled across the country, and traffic lights were out, causing widespread traffic jams in New Delhi when three of its regional grids collapsed.
The problem, according to Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, is that states are taking more than their allotted share of electricity.
"Everyone overdraws from the grid. Just this morning I held a meeting with power officials from the states and I gave directions that states that overdraw should be punished. We have given instructions that their power supply could be cut," he told reporters.
The power failure affected 20 of India's 28 states, causing blackouts for about double the number of people living in the U.S.
The blackout stretched from the border with Myanmar in the northeast to the Pakistani border about 1,870 miles away.
Shinde said the power was fully restored in the northeast grid four hours after it went down. He said the grid had 45 percent power and the east grid had 35 percent.
According to R.N. Nayak, chairman of Power Grid Corp. full power will be restored later in the evening.
In West Bengal, express trains and local electric trains were stopped at stations across the state of West Bengal on the eastern grid.
"The situation is very grave. We are doing everything to restore power," West Bengal Power Minister Manish Gupta told reporters.
New Delhi's Metro rail system shut down for the second day in a row. Police said they evacuated Delhi's busy Rajiv Chowk station in under half an hour before closing the shutters. About 300 trains were held up in the affected regions, according to Anil Kumar Saxena, a spokesman for Indian Railways.
The recent outage came just a day after India's northern power grid collapsed for several hours. Indian officials were able to restore power several hours later, but at 1:05 p.m. on Tuesday, the northern grid collapsed again, followed by the eastern grid and the northeastern grid.
According to a CNN report, about 150 coal miners were working underground when the outage happened, stopping lifts. The report said that authorities switched to emergency supplies to run elevators to bring the minors up. Over 60 percent have been brought out of the mine so far.
Some of the increased power demand has come from farmers needing more energy for irrigation and other tasks. Shinde has ordered an investigation into the outage, and said the last time an entire grid failed in north India was 10 years ago.