More than half of India came to a standstill on Tuesday when three power grids failed in Northern and Eastern India. One grid collapsed for the second day in a row. This is the second time since 2001 such a massive breakdown has taken place, with this one affecting more than 650 million people across 20 different states in the country.
New Delhi has witnessed large traffic jams in major parts of the city as a result of road signals being out. The metro service grinded to a halt leading to chaos all around as commuters were left stranded. The overcast weather and rain only exacerbated their woes.
This was the second day in a row that electrical outrages have struck the metropolis after the Northern grid first collapsed on Sunday. Before it was fully back on line the grid collapsed again, overwhelming the residents of India’s capital.
Other parts of Northern and Eastern India were also suffering on Tuesday with trains and bus services down in large sways of the affected areas. According to one report more than 300 trains came to an abrupt halt. Hospitals all across the affected areas were badly hit with most of them only maintaining electricity for emergency services through diesel generators.
There were other reports of around 200 miners getting trapped inside a coal mine in the eastern Indian city of Asansol but they have since been rescused. This freeded emergency service personnel to focus on 65 miners who are still trapped in the nearby Jharkhand mine.
Outgoing Power Minister Shushil Kumar Shinde blamed the state governments for this massive power failure. According to him, the main reason the Northern and Eastern grids failed was because state governments in those areas use so much power. However, Uttar Pradesh, presumably the culprit state, has denied drawing extra powers from the national grid.
In India, state governments have their own power generation units and they buy power from the central grids in order to offset the deficit.
The breakdown of the power grids underlines the weakness of aging power stations and the massive gap of supply for a growing country. This is one of the major areas where infrastructure is weak and needs urgent attention.