Girls study in the light of candles inside a school during power-cut in Noida on the outskirts of New Delhi. — Reuters Photo
Girls study in the light of candles inside a school during power-cut in Noida on the outskirts of New Delhi. — Reuters Photo

NEW DELHI: India's energy crisis spread over half the country Tuesday when both its eastern and northern electricity grids collapsed, leaving 600 million people without power in one of the world's biggest-ever blackouts. 

The power failure has raised serious concerns about India's outdated infrastructure and the government's inability to meet an insatiable appetite for energy as the country aspires to become a regional economic superpower.

The outage in the eastern grid came just a day after India's northern power grid collapsed for several hours. Indian officials managed to restore power several hours later, but at 1:05 pm, Tuesday the northern grid collapsed again, said Shailendre Dubey, an official at the Uttar Pradesh Power Corp. in India's largest state. About the same time, the eastern grid failed as well, said S K Mohanty, a power official in the eastern state of Orissa. The two grids serve about half India's population.

Traffic lights went out across New Delhi. The city's Metro rail system, which serves about 1.8 million people a day, immediately shut down for the second day in a row. Police said they managed to evacuate Delhi's busy Barakhamba Road station in under half an hour before closing the shutters.

S K Jain, 54, said he was on his way to file his income tax return when the Metro closed and now would almost certainly miss the deadline.

The new power failure affected people across 13 states — more than the entire population of the European Union. They raised concerns about India's outdated infrastructure and its insatiable appetite for energy that the government has been unable to meet.

India's demand for electricity has soared along with its economy in recent years, but utilities have been unable to meet the growing needs. India's Central Electricity Authority reported power deficits of more than eight per cent in recent months.

The power deficit was worsened by a weak monsoon that lowered hydroelectric generation and kept temperatures higher, further increasing electricity usage as people seek to cool off.

But any connection to the grid remains a luxury for many. One-third of India's households do not even have electricity to power a light bulb, according to last year's census.

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Comments are closed.

Comments (16)

July 31, 2012 1:06 pm
That's a lot of suffering in this heat. As someone who has witnessed North American power blackout of 2003 and constant Pakistani blackouts I know of how terrible it is for common folks. Wish all the best to India and hope they recover soon.
July 31, 2012 12:17 pm
In west delhi where i live, we get 24 hour power supply everyday. Power situation in many states in india has improved a lot in these years. This is not a load shedding but breakdown of grids. This can happen anywhere, even america faced blackout last year.
July 31, 2012 1:50 pm
and they want to sell power to Pakistan to generate goodwill... that surely will lose power in India
Saad (DXB)
July 31, 2012 9:38 am
Incredible India!!!
Parvez Khan
July 31, 2012 9:49 am
Look at the way this article is presented with false information about Indias infrastructure.....pakistan a stone aged nation should realize that they still remain a flint stone of Asia.....
July 31, 2012 12:33 pm
There were similar blackouts in US in 2003 and 2008 , is that mean they also have outdated infra? :) India’s grid is one of the best maintained in the world. United States of America had needed four days to restore a grid failure in 2008 and that too with the help of Indian engineers.
July 31, 2012 9:54 am
why is it in the news? the same happens everyday here in pakistan :P
July 31, 2012 9:54 am
Don't worry for us ...We take it as a challange and will be better prepared for tomorrow . Critics like you help us achieve the success..thanks
July 31, 2012 11:42 am
It is funny how we Pakistanis make fun of India, when Pakistan suffers from the same problems.
July 31, 2012 11:29 am
Demand and supply gap! Poor infrastructure...Greedy states. This was waiting to happen.
Dr Ali
July 31, 2012 5:18 pm
there is load shedding in Pakistan. But a breakdown is a complete collapse of a whole area's system. these two are different things.
Concerned Netizen
July 31, 2012 5:38 pm
Please note that they give more importance to nation's economy than religion. Seems to me that they are more focused on development rather than forming a particular religion based society.
July 31, 2012 6:58 pm
I like to say thanks to the hundreds of electricity department workers who has solved the problem so quickly. Thank you.
July 31, 2012 8:31 pm
comparison of India Pakistan by Indian nationals on Dawn blogs ... shows how much inferiority complex they have. Loadshedding happens in pakistan, more chronic since 2008, not because of power generation incapacity but because of governments unwillingness to payup the IPPs. Other than that Pakistan has more than required capacity production capability with much lower tarrifs. Also there seems to be a massive difference in attitudes displayed by indians I meet here in UK everyday than the ones commenting here regularly. shame on you local ones :)
July 31, 2012 11:18 pm
Thats the Indian spirit that we Pakistanis respect and should follow. Yes, bad things happen but good nations learn from the same and get better. Great comments Anil.
Baba Sidni
July 31, 2012 11:46 pm
america faced a blackout last year, REALLY? For how long and where, can you supply details.
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