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Originally published August 2 2012

Massive power grid failure shakes India

by J. D. Heyes

(NaturalNews) India, unique in many ways, is now known for something else: the world's largest power outage.

About 670 million of the country's one billion people were left without power this week when three of the country's power grids failed in rapid succession. The outage, which lasted hours, forced businesses, hospitals and public buildings to rely on back-up generators.

Needless to say, the outage infuriated - and embarrassed - most Indians, but many reportedly took the mishap in stride, simply because losing power (though not nearly on as wide a scale) is a fairly common occurrence in this would-be Asian powerhouse that is trying to obtain first-world status, if only it had enough reliable electricity to do so.

Though businesses, factories and airports relied on generators, some households had to rely on backup systems that were powered by truck batteries, The Associated Press reported. But hundreds of millions of the nation's poor weren't really affected, since they had no electricity in the first place.

No big deal - but yet, it is a big deal

Some Indians - used to such inconveniences we Americans would never tolerate - took the situation in stride.

"The blackout might have been huge, but it wasn't unbearably long," Satish, owner of a coffee and juice shop in central Delhi, told AP. "It was just as bad as any other five-hour power cut. We just used a generator while the light was out, and it was work as usual."

The huge outages are becoming even more common than normal, however. The massive outage was the second record-breaking outage in as many days; the country's northern power grid failed on Monday, which left about 370 million people without power for most of the hot, sweltering day. That collapse was blamed on Indian states which apparently drew more than their power allotment (can you imagine such an allotment system going over very well in the U.S.?).

The following day, the northern grid collapsed once more, officials said, which led to a cascade of failures on subsequent grids in the east and northeast, robbing 20 of India's 28 states of power.

"I can understand this happening once in a while but how can one allow such a thing to happen two days in a row?" frustrated shop worker Anu Chopra, 21, told the BBC. "It just shows our infrastructure is in a complete mess. There is no transparency and no accountability whatsoever."

The blame game

The national government; however, was quick to not take the blame. Instead, Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde pointed an accusing finger at Indian states, saying they took more than they were allowed to have. Shame on them for wanting to better serve their populations.

State officials in Uttar Pradesh, one of the states blamed in the Indian media, hit back, saying there was "no reason to believe" they were at fault.

"We are not to be blamed for the technical snag that tripped the grid," the power minister of Haryana state, Captain Ajay Singh, told a local TV station. "We are simply being blamed for what everyone does."

Clearly, the Indian economy has outgrown its capacity to support itself. "Power cuts are common in Indian cities because of a fundamental shortage of power and an aging grid - the chaos caused by such cuts has led to protests and unrest on the streets in the past," the BBC reported. "India's demand for electricity has soared in recent years as its economy has grown but its power infrastructure has been unable to meet the growing needs."

Analysts say India needs a "huge investment" in updating and expanding its power infrastructure if it is to ever achieve the economic status it seeks.



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