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Massive India Power Blackout Hits Over 700 Million People

Power lines in Delhi

In one of the world’s worst power blackouts to date, over 700 million people in India were left without power. Out of 28 states in India, 20 were hit with a power cut when three out of five grids failed. New Delhi, the capital, was among those left without power.

Trains stalled along thousands of miles of tracks, nurses had to manually operate some life-saving equipment when backup generators failed (fortunately no lives were lost), and electric crematoriums stopped operating. In West Bengal, miners were trapped underground for hours due to broken down lifts. State government workers were sent home after the chief minister said it would be 10 to 12 hours before the power was back on, and engineers spent hours trying to get the grid back up and running.

There are about 710 million people living in the affected area, which is nearly double the US population. As more and more people in the region are relying on air conditioning units, flat-screen TVs, and various other electronic gadgets, power is significantly increasing in demand and the developing middle class is relying on the government providing reliable power.

According to former power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, the collapse was a result of states overdrawing from their allotted electricity share. He gave directions to power officials from each state, enforcing energy allotments and threatening to cut power supplies in states overreaching limits. Strangely enough, Shinde was promoted to the home affairs ministry on Tuesday and the power brief was given to Veerappa Moily, the corporate affairs minister.

One of the saddest aspects of all this is the uneven distribution of electricity in India. According to the 2011 census, one-third of households in India don’t even have enough electricity to power a light bulb. If India is to really lead in clean energy, it’s clearly going to have to make some serious investments and changes.

Image CC licensed by Robert Cudmore: Power lines in Delhi

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