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ASIA > Grid failures a ‘wake up call’ for India

NEW DELHI - Agence France-Presse

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An Indian man prepares a meal as others sit at a roadside shop on a dark street following a power outage in Allahabad. AP photo

An Indian man prepares a meal as others sit at a roadside shop on a dark street following a power outage in Allahabad. AP photo

The worst power outage in India’s history represents a “wake up call” over the failure of the creaking electricity system to keep pace with the growth of Asia’s third-largest economy, analysts said. The government traced the immediate cause of July 31’s outage - which came just a day after a massive power failure July 30 - to energy-hungry states guzzling more than their allotted power for a second straight day.

But India’s energy problems are more than simply undisciplined state electricity boards tapping an overburdened grid - they go to the heart of the nation’s aspirations to be a rising economic power, experts said.

“This was one of the biggest power outages in the world,” said Chandrajit Banerjee, director general of the Confederation of Indian Industry, referring to the collapse of the grids that knocked out power in 20 of 29 states and caused havoc at train stations, airports, hospitals and on roads. “It is imperative our basic infrastructure requirements are in keeping with India’s aspirations,” Banerjee said, as the failure presented a dismaying picture of a country striving for a bigger role on the global stage.

Power cuts are a daily occurrence for those lucky enough to have a permanent connection in India. The country runs a peak-hour electricity shortfall of around 12 percent.

August/02/2012

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