New Delhi:  India was hit by a massive power failure on Tuesday, bigger than the blackout a day before, that crippled train, Metro and road-transport services and left nearly 50 percent of the population of the country without electricity for over ten hours.  

The power failure was even bigger than the Monday’s blackout as three major transmission grids failed, bringing northern, eastern and north-eastern regions to a grinding halt.

More than 10 hrs to restore power

The power was restored to a larger extent at around 7.30 p.m. after more than ten hours. Monday's blackout had lasted from 2.30 a.m. to late morning.

After 10 hours, 86 percent supply had resumed in the Northern region while in the Eastern region 79 percent had been restored till 23: 30 hours, according to Power Grid.
The grid incident occurred at 1 p.m., affecting the northern, eastern and northeastern grids.

On a day that over 600 million people were grappling with the electricity crisis, the government moved Sushil Kumar Shinde from the Power Ministry to the more sensitive Home Ministry.

200 miners trapped in West Bengal

The power failure also left around 200 miners trapped in a mine in West Bengal's Burdwan district. The miners of Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL) were rescued after emergency power supply was arranged.

300 trains stranded mid-way

Over 300 trains were also left stranded mid journey for hours, affecting around 300,000 rail passengers.

21 states, 600 mn people affected

The states affected on Tuesday were Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand, Sikkim, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh. These states account for half of India's 1.2 billion population.

"Oh, not again. We faced a terrible situation on Monday. What is the government doing, were no lessons learnt from Monday's blackout," said an exasperated Paloma Guha, a new mother trying to make her baby sleep in the heat.

Airport services disrupted

An airport spokesperson said all essential services were shifted to the diesel generating back-up system.

Probe ordered

Outgoing Power Minister Sushil kumar Shinde on Monday constituted a three-member panel to look into the failure of the Northern Grid which led to power outages throughout the region on Monday. The committee will submit its report in 15 days.

In the initial inquiry, the committee has attributed the collapse to overdrawing of power by four states - Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana. However, all four states denied the charge.

Delhi metro services come to halt

The capital's popular Delhi Metro, which caters to 1.8 million passengers on a week day, suspended service on all its six lines due to the power trip, inconveniencing thousands of passengers.  Metro services were resumed fully at 5.30 p.m.

Traffic tangles in Delhi

There was chaos on the streets of the national capital as Delhi Metro commuters spilled on to the streets to look for alternative transport. With traffic-lights on the blink, over 4,000 traffic policemen manned the intersections amid the intermittent rain.

Delhi hospitals unaffected

Hospitals in Delhi were unaffected by the crisis due to their power back-ups, as was Delhi's international airport. Flight operations remained normal.

Reasons for massive power failure

Speaking to reporters here at around 4 pm on Tuesday, chairman and managing director of state-run Power Grid Corp of India R N Nayak, said the failure was due to overdrawal of power by some states and that a full inquiry would reveal the nature of the problem.

According to Nayak, the demand across the three regions is around 55,000 MW.

Except for few areas in Kolkata and Delhi, and Narora (Uttar Pradesh), all three regions were affected, he said.

At the time of failure, Northern Grid's demand was about 32,400 MW, Eastern Grid (12,000 MW) and North Eastern Grid (1,100 MW), respectively.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said the Central Government should ensure that no state draws electricity beyond its sanctioned load. For this, they will have to develop and strengthen the infrastructure.

The US had faced a similar blackout in early July following a storm that left large parts of the East Coast without power for a few days and affected almost two million people.


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