Overdrawing States blamed for ‘fuseday’ in North and East

Over 600 million people were affected as almost half of India went without power for more than six hours on Tuesday.

Three electricity grids — Northern, Eastern and North-Eastern that transmit 57,297 MW during peak hours — collapsed to cause a blackout in 20 States and two Union Territories. Restoration of power started after three-four hours.

The Eastern grid supplies West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and Sikkim, while the North-Eastern grid serves Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram. The northern grid powers Chandigarh, Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, J&K, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand. Those connected to the Northern Grid suffered the second day of outage.

No one knows what led to the ‘world’s biggest blackout’. Or, if they know, prefer to remain non-committal. “Some sectors are overdrawing, we don’t want to name them,” said Mr R. N. Nayak, Chairman and Managing Director, Power Grid Corporation. PowerGrid maintains and operates five national grids.

BLAME GAME

Some quarters blamed Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab for overdrawing, leading to a blame-game between the States and the Centre. The States blamed for the collapse reacted by saying the allegations were ‘baseless’.

The overdrawal, according to some, happened because of poor rainfall, forcing farmers to run their motors longer to meet irrigation demands for the recently transplanted paddy and sugarcane. On Monday, the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) had issued notices to States asking them to follow grid discipline.

Mr Sushil Kumar Shinde, who till this evening was Power Minister (he has moved to Home), said: “States are drawing more than the limit. I have asked for strict punishment for overdrawing power.”

Terming the grid collapse unfortunate, he said his Ministry was trying to identify the reasons for it.

The Eastern grid caters to West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and Sikkim, while the North-Eastern grid servescaters to Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram. The Northern grid supplies to Chandigarh, Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, J&K, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttrakhand.

Services across six Railways zones were thrown out of gear. Over 300 passenger and 200 goods trains were affected, Railway officials said.

The worst affected were the commuters. The Delhi Metro suspended all services, which were later restored. It moves about 18 lakh people daily.

Life in Kolkata and Howrah were relatively unaffected as CESC systems did not collapse. Metro services in Kolkata operated normally. The Kolkata airport, too, was not affected.

MINERS RESCUED

Meanwhile, a large number of miners were reportedly trapped in several a number of underground mines due to the power outage. According to CIL officials, with resumption of supplies by the Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) and the active help of DPSC Ltd ?, all the miners were evacuated safely by evening.

Services across six Railways zones were also thrown off out of gear. Over 300 passenger and 200 goods trains were affectedimpacted, Railway officials said. Services in the Northern Railway, North Central Railway, West Central, East Central, Eastern and South Eastern Railway were hitamong the affected services.

siddhartha.s@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on July 30, 2012)
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