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Monster power cut hits nation

New Delhi, July 31, 2012, DHNS: 1:36 IST

Over 60 crore people suffer due to blackout in 22 states in North, East and N-E

Failure of traffic lights led to kilometres of gridlock in Delhi. AP

In one of the worst instances of power outage around the world, more than 60 crore people in 22 states across the northern, eastern and northeastern regions of India went without electricity for several hours on Tuesday, after three power supply grids collapsed in quick succession early in the afternoon.

The northern power grid, that supplies around 30,000 MW electricity to northern Indian states, was the first to collapse, around 12:45 pm. It seemed no lesson was learnt from Monday’s grid collapse that blacked out the region for over 12 hours, severely crippling normal life in Delhi and other cities and towns.

Soon, a collapsing northern grid dragged with it the eastern grid as power withdrawal from the latter led to its collapse as well. Then it was the turn of the northeastern grid. Within an hour, more than half of the country was without electricity.

Millions of offices and homes had no power till evening, ATM machines did not function, surgeries had to be postponed, hundreds of trains stranded — some in the middle of tunnels — as passengers had a horrid time, road traffic was thrown out of gear in many cities and coal miners in Burdhwan in West Bengal got trapped for several hours.



Delhi Metro, lifeline of the Capital’s citizens, as well as Kolkata Metro, did not function for many hours. Metro stations as well as bus stops in Delhi witnessed chaotic scenes, with rain adding to the misery. Crowds thronged the bus stops, clogging the system in the two cities, although the airport functioned normally. The West Bengal government declared holiday on Tuesday following the outage.

The 200 miners of Eastern Coalfields, who were trapped inside Sodepur and Satgram coalfields in Burdwan disitrict, were rescued soon. “The Eastern Coalfields officials managed to restore power supply and all the 200 miners were rescued,” Commissioner of Asansol Commissionerate Ajay Nanda told Deccan Herald.
The collapse of the northern grid followed a similar crash on Monday, that plunged Delhi and eight states into darkness for over 12 hours.

The cause of the collapse of the three power grids on Tuesday lay in three States –Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana – which drew excessive power than their allocation from the northern grid, with the cascading effect on eastern and north-eastern grid downing both the grids.

Power supply was disrupted in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand, Assam and Punjab. The Northern grid failed around 1 pm and immediately Eastern and Northeastern grid followed suit, disrupting normal life. The collapse was so severe that several thermal, gas, hydro power generating stations located in the affected States shut down.

The restoration in supply began around 4.30pm, with the national capital by drawing power from hydro power stations of Bhutan and Uttarakhand. Electricity from Western grid was also drawn as an emergency measure and supplied to Northern grid with priority given to railways, metro, drinking water and hospitals.

The complete restoration of power supply is expected to happen only midnight or early Wednesday as resumption of halted thermal power generating stations will require 6 hours. As against the 55,000 MW of power carried by these three grids, around 35,000 MW electricity was supplied by midnight. The power ministry said by 9 pm, 60 per cent of power supply on northern and eastern grid and 100 per cent of north-eastern grid had been restored. Delhi saw about 80 per cent of supply restored by this time.

India has five electricity grids -- Northern, Eastern, North Eastern, Southern and Western.

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