Power failure for a couple of hours at a time is common in India, but now it seems that massive power failures are becoming the norm. India today, suffered its second massive power failure in just two days. As a result it has affected almost half of the vast and populous country, or up to 600 million people, are without electricity and disrupting transport networks.
The first power grid failure which was reported on Monday, in its Capital Delhi, was one of the worst blackout in a decade, affecting more than 350 million people in seven states of northern India. But today’s failure is even worse, covering almost the entire eastern and northeastern areas. As a result, hundreds of trains that carry travelers through the length and breadth of the country came to halt. According to a spokesman from Indian Railways, “at least 300 trains have been held up in the affected regions.” Public transports are in a mess, with people waiting for hours to get back home. Even ATM’s have stopped working. 150 Miners in the Burdwan District of West Bengal state were found trapped underground, as they were working when the blackout occurred. However, by the use of emergency power more than 60% have been brought above ground.
It’s not sure whether India will break any records in the ongoing London Olympics, but given the number of lives affected by the blackout, it is unlikely that this record will be broken anytime soon. Other major power failures reported worldwide were the 1999 and 2009 outages in Brazil, which affected 97 and 87 million people, the 2003 blackout in US which affected 55 million people. None of these match the current crisis in India, even if we sum them up.
Various reasons given for the failure include, due to slow monsoon season farmers using more energy for irrigation and other tasks, and people are also using air conditioning units more to overcome the scorching summers.
We can certainly call it amusing that on the very day when India is down with massive power failure, Union power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has been allotted the coveted Ministry of Home Affairs portfolio. This clearly indicates the concern the leaders have for the common man.
Now Ground Zero reality, I have been without power since 1 pm IST. I am currently in one of the happening places, but due to the power crisis, I could only see faint lights around. Shopkeepers are closing their shops early. I wanted to write more, but my genset which has been running since morning is running out of fuel, and on top of it the power crisis has created a shortage of fuel in my city, so I can’t go for a refill either.