Twice in 2 days: Power grids trip again


Less than 24 hours after the collapse of the northern power grid, the country suffered its biggest ever blackout on Tuesday afternoon as the eastern and north-eastern grids also collapsed, leaving 22 states powerless till late in the evening.

The mounting demand for electricity as monsoon rains remained deficient, outdated power transmission equipments and utter lack of discipline by state utilities in drawing power, brought on the failure of the three power grids. At one stage, the supply was less than 40,000 MW against a workday peak demand of 130,000 MW.

The collapse occurred at 1 pm when the northern grid tripped, despite a stable electricity supply. This immediately led to a cascading effect on the eastern and north-eastern grids, as these two are also connected as a common grid. The problem was compounded as several states had removed the under frequency relays that island their systems when grid disruptions occur.

India's worst ever disaster in its key infrastructure sector left over 200 coal miners trapped in West Bengal and Jharkhand as their shafts closed. While rescue operations were delayed due to lack of electricity, the miners were all evacuated by late evening.

The Railways were among the worst-hit, with over 300 trains stranded. In Delhi, the Metro network came to a halt and massive traffic snarls made commuting a nightmare.

Among the states that were affected were Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, West Bengal, Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Orissa, Bihar, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Assam, covering more than half of the country's population.

Outgoing power minister Sushilkumar Shinde, who appointed a three-member panel to probe the blackout yesterday, blamed Tuesday's collapse on the eastern states, saying they had overdrawn 3,000 MW.

Power Grid CMD R N Nayak also said that "some sections are creating problems by overdrawing power".

A senior power ministry official said states like Punjab and Uttar Pradesh have clarified that they did not trigger the crisis by overdrawal. He said the southern states have also been asked to remain vigilant against grid breakdowns.

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