‘Power outage in Mumbai was an act of sabotage’

Rahul Wadke Mumbai | Updated on March 01, 2021

On October 12 last year, large parts of Mumbai metropolis and parts of Thane district were hit by a power outage.

The Energy Minister of Maharashtra, Nitin Raut on Monday called the large scale power failure in Mumbai region on October 12, 2020 as an act of sabotage.

In a new report issued by US-based company Recorded Future, referred to unknown Chinese entities in mounting a cyberattack on Indian electricity infrastructure, leading to a large scale power failure in Mumbai. The Recorded Future report has also been carried in a number of international publications including New York Times.

Multiple agencies of Centre and Maharashtra Government have launched their independent probes into the incident. The cyber cell of the Maharashtra Police also investigated into the incident and its finding were submitted today to the State Home Department.

Raut was also given a copy of the cyber police report by the Home Minister of Maharashtra. The US report will also be shared with the State Government.

For probing the incident the State Energy Department, Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission and Central Electricity Regulatory Authority have set up their own investigation committees, whose reports are about to be completed.

Home Minister of Maharashtra, Anil Deshmukh told mediapersons that the report is a preliminary investigation into the incident. Foreign entities are involved in it and cyber experts are working further on the matter. The cyberattack on the power infrastructure could have been based on trojans or malware. Illegal attempts were made to log in into the utilities servers. The matter needs further investigation.

Deshmukh said that the findings of the report by Recorded Future, points to the possibility of Chinese entities being involved in the attacks.

Raut added that further comments on the matter could be made only after fully reading the cyber police cell report.

Power outage

At 10:05 am on October 12, large parts of Mumbai metropolis and parts of Thane district were hit by a power outage. There were multiple tripping of transformers and line and about 360 MW power supply to the Mumbai area was cut off initially. By 12:05 pm power was restored in some parts of South Mumbai and Navi Mumbai. But it took almost 10 hours to restore the full supply to the region.

On the that day, Raut in a statement had said that maintenance work at a MahaTransmission power station was undergoing on the circuit no 1 on the Kalwa-Padgha line. So, all the power load was on circuit no 2. However, circuit no 2 developed a technical failure leading to an outage in large parts of Mumbai and Thane region, he had said in the statement.

The grid failure lead to a large-scale suburban train services disruption. The outage had affected major services in the city and large hospitals had to switch to emergency power supply.

On the other hand a senior Central Government official told BusinessLine that till date the Central Government agencies mandated to carry out the investigations have not received the full information and data about the incident. The bureaucrats from the concerned ministries have not been sharing the information and data.

Well known expert on strategic affairs, Lt General (Retired) D S Hooda told BusinessLine that China is trying to convey to India that it has a capability to disrupt, and it is willing to use it. Similar incidents had also happened in Ukraine by the entities in Russia. Such incidents are a pressure tactic and act of coercion, saying that very large-scale damage to civilian infrastructure can happen, he said.

Published on March 01, 2021

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