Triggering a major power crisis, three electricity grids connecting more than 20 states and the national capital collapsed on Tuesday. While the northern grid failed for the second straight day, the eastern and north-eastern grids too collapsed. These three grids carry about 50,000 MW of electricity.
About 22 states and union territories have been affected by the failure of 3 power grids. Over 600 million people (nearly half of India’s population), in 22 out of 28 states in India were without power. The power failure began yesterday on 30th July 2012 at 2:48 AM IST in India, affecting 14 states followed by another power outage today, July 31st that began at 13:02 PM IST. Already this blackout is labeled to be one of the world’s worst blackouts in history.
Large parts of Durgapur were impacted due to this power failure. Though the Steel Township was not affected at all, but other areas of Durgapur were badly affected. Normal life came into a stand still. The malls, bazaars and multiplexes were all virtually closed. Several trains were seen standing in Durgapur Railway Station. Production in Durgapur Steel Plant (DSP) was also affected.
Essential services and public transport systems, including Railways and the Delhi Metro and Kolkata Metro were also hit. More than 300 intercity trains and commuter lines were shut down as a result of the power outage. Over 300 passenger trains have been held up at various stations. The worst affected zones in the wake of the power grid’s collapse were Northern Railway, North Central Railway, East Central Railway, East Coast Railway, and parts of Eastern Railway, South Eastern Railways and West Central Railway.
The Delhi Metro suspended service on all six lines as power tripped for the second consecutive day. Delhi Metro had to evacuate passengers from trains that stopped mid-journey. The Delhi Disaster Management Authority helped in this evacuation. New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport remained open due to the fact that it switched to back-up power. As result of this blackout, around 200 miners were trapped underground in eastern India due to lifts failing, but officials later said they had all been rescued.
NTPC officials said its projects affected by grid failure are expected to begin full operations by Tuesday midnight. The company’s 62 thermal units with 14000 mw crashed after the grid failure.
Seventy per cent or 24,300 MW of power has been restored in the northern region, including Delhi, till 1930 hours, Power Grid said in a statement. In Delhi, 100 per cent or 4,100 MW, has resumed. State-run Power Grid, which manages grids across the country, reported that supply to Delhi Metro and Railway traction has been restored at 1530 hours. In the Eastern region, 58 per cent supply has been restored till 2130 hours.
On the day of the collapse, Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde stated that though the exact cause of the failure was unknown, but that at the time of the failure, electricity use was “above normal”. He speculated that some states had attempted to draw more power than permitted due to higher consumption. Spokesperson for Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) and the Northern Regional Load Despatch Centre (NRLDC) stated that Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana were the states responsible for the overdraw.
A senior director for an Indian power company described the outage as “a fairly large breakdown that exposed major technical faults in India’s grid system. Something went terribly wrong which caused the backup safety systems to fail.