India: Massive power cut hits millions, cause unknown : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Massive power cut hits India

A massive breakdown in power supplies in India left millions of people in the capital, Delhi, and across the entire north of the country without electricity.

Engineers are now reported to be gradually restoring power across the region - home to some 230 million people.

The power failure began at 0430 (2300 GMT), after what officials described as a fault in the transmission system plunged much of north India into darkness.

Rail networks were hit, as well as Delhi's international airport.

Officials from Power Grid Corp, the government agency that runs the electricity network, said power would be restored in a few hours.

"We have been able to get almost 80% of the northern grid back up to normal," an official was quoted as saying.

North India was plunged into darkness

The northern grid is a transmission network that links seven northern states.

A spokesman for the Indian Rail Ministry told the BBC that commuters travelling short distances to work were the worst affected.

The BBC's Jill McGivering says that by lunchtime dozens trains were still stranded between stations, blocking routes and causing considerable delays as the pressure built up.

Emergency services, utilities and telephone services were said to be affected in many states.

The official residences of the president, prime minister and senior government officials were also temporarily without power.

Millions hit

It is still not clear what caused the power failure - there has as yet been no official word from the government.

Massive delays hit rail travellers

"There is a total failure of northern grid and Delhi Government can hardly do anything about it," reports quoted Delhi's Power Minister, Narendra Nath, as saying.

The federal Power Minister, Suresh Prabhu, said his department would find out why it happened.

Although occasional power failures are quite common in India, a failure on such a large scale is relatively rare.

The states of Punjab and Haryana were hit, along with parts of Uttar Pradesh.

Kashmir, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh were also reported to be without power.

The Press Trust of India said the disruption began with a fault in the Panki substation in Uttar Pradesh, which triggered a breakdown of the entire northern grid.

Many homes, businesses and emergency services in India have generators which provide back up power during a power failure.

-- Jim McAteer (, January 02, 2001


Top World News

01/02 07:51 Northern India Suffers Power Cut, Manufacturing Hit (Update3) By Subramaniam Sharma

New Delhi, Jan. 2 (Bloomberg) -- India's northern region suffered a power breakdown, hitting nearly a third of the nation's 1 billion people and hurting manufacturing companies in the world's second-most populous country.

Electricity supply was disrupted in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh, making it one of the worst such power failures in the past year. The government declined to say what had caused the breakdown.

India, already facing severe power shortages, can ill-afford such outages. The blackout caught companies unawares, leaving many in the middle of their production processes.

``We had hot liquid metal in the middle of the process that's lying waste,'' said D.K. Sindhwani, chief executive of the steel division of Mahavir Spinning Mills Ltd. in Ludhiana, Punjab. ``My workers are sitting idle.'' The division, which makes special and alloy steel for automobiles, estimates it will lose 1 million rupees because of today's power outage.

India, which, according to the government, has 12 percent less power than it needs, has found growth crimped by outages and the rationing of power. India needs an estimated investment of $100 billion to meet power demand in the next 10 years.

Restoring Power

The government expects partial resumption of power by 10 p.m. local time.

The power generating network collapsed ``because of over utilization of capacities,'' said Power Minister Suresh Prabhu at a press conference. The failure may have been triggered by the failure of the 250 megawatt Panki power station in Uttar Pradesh, he said.

Northern India, which needs 19,000 megawatts of power during peak hours in the mornings and evenings, gets a maximum 17,000 megawatts on average. The government expects to restore at least 12,000 megawatts of electricity by this evening, said Prabhu.

The government has set up a committee to investigate the reason for the collapse of the network and suggest steps to avoid such a crisis in the future.

Region-wide network collapses are unusual, although power cuts are common in the country because demand outstrips supply.

There should be a ``mechanism to ensure that the failure of a particular sub-station does not cripple the economy,'' said the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India.

Railway services in the northern part of the country were also disrupted.

``Undoubtedly there has been a loss that cannot be quantified,'' said Prabhu.

Power Troubles

India has been unable to remove hurdles to private investment in power. Last year four overseas companies, including Electricite de France, Europe's largest electricity company, pulled out of $3 billion worth of power projects, citing long delays and a lack of payment guarantees.

The main problem has been that the state electricity boards, provincial government agencies that generate and distribute power, are not able to provide private companies with payment guarantees as they are mostly running at a loss.

The lack of profitability is partly because the boards give electricity to farmers either free of charge or at highly subsidized rates.

Agriculture, which consumes about 30 percent of the total electricity produced in the country, accounts for 4 percent of the revenue of state electricity boards. The tariff charge for agriculture is 0.30 rupees per unit of electricity, against the average cost of 2.81 rupees per unit.

The commercial losses of these boards, excluding subsidies, are expected to rise to 207.01 billion rupees ($4.4 billion) in the year to March 31, 2000, from 180.81 billion rupees a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Power. 20News&s1=blk&tp=ad_topright_topworld& =blk&bt=ad_position1_windex&middle=ad_frame2_windex&s=AOlHO2xW4Tm9ydGh l

-- Martin Thompson (, January 02, 2001.

Southern grid at ‘critical stage’ Ashok Das (Hyderabad, Janaury 2)

THE FIVE southern states - Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Pondichery could face a blackout similar to Delhi and other parts of North India as on Tuesday following tripping of the Northern Grid.

Grid Corporation officials admitted that the Southern Grid was functioning at a very critical level and any small mishap anywhere can disrupt the entire grid causing a total blackout.

The power frequency, they said, has to be constantly maintained at 50 cycles per second. However, frequency below that level can be catastrophic, they said.

The Southern Grid is often functioning at 48 hertz cycles per second, which is considered near-critical point. "If any untoward thing happens anywhere, the grid cannot take the load and entire system will collapse", said a senior official.

The only state, which has taken some initiative to localise the damage in such a scenario, is Tamil Nadu. The state launched an "islanding scheme" to take care that certain vital installations are not affected in case of total outage. The scheme is still in experimental stage.

Andhra Pradesh, too, has provided under frequency relays to shut off feeder system when the frequency came down below the critical level because of mismatch of demand and supply. This is part of the in- built disaster management system.

But the state was yet to consider any "islanding" scheme to localise the power blackout.

The other problem with Andhra Pradesh is it is the gateway to South and a lot of power is transferred to and from Eastern Grid to Southern Grid through the state. Similarly, the power generated by NTPC’s 2100 MW plant at Ramagundam in Andhra Pradesh is also given to southern states from AP. "Any islanding in such scenario will be difficult", said AP Transco officials.

The Southern Grid is at present in a better position to prevent any blackout than earlier. The entire grid is computerized and engineers can easily monitor the fluctuations if any and then take appropriate corrective measures.

-- Martin Thompson (, January 02, 2001.

This is so weird. None of the India wires had any mention of this story this morning. Found the following in the Malaysia wires:

The Star

Wednesday, January 3, 2001

Outage in six Indian states

NEW DELHI: India's entire northern region--with three times the population of Germany--suffered a power cut yesterday due to the collapse of the whole northern grid.

An official of state-owned Power Grid Corp. said supply had been disrupted since early morning in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Delhi, Kashmir, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh.

The six states have a combined population of over 226 million.

"We are working to get electricity supply back to normal in the next few hours,'' the official said.

The Press Trust of India said the disruption was due to a snag in the Panki substation in Uttar Pradesh, triggering off the wider breakdown.

Power breakdowns are common in India as demand far outstrips supply, but the collapse of power lines across an entire region is unusual.

The outage hit rail networks as well as Delhi's international airport.

Partial electricity supply was restored in New Delhi in the early afternoon.--AFP

-- Rachel Gibson (, January 03, 2001.

Power back on in northern India

Power has been restored to millions of people in northern India a day after the entire regional grid failed, severely disrupting industry, transport and telecommunications.

The 12-hour power cut affected the capital New Delhi and six states in the north, a combined population of more than 220 million.

The government has ordered a high-level inquiry into the blackout, which began with the failure of a single power station and cascaded through the entire grid.

The Confederation of Indian Industry estimates industry losses from the power cut at more than 190 million dollars.

-- Martin Thompson (, January 03, 2001.

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