NEW DELHI - Agence France-Presse
Passengers sit in a train as they wait for electricity to be restored at a railway station in the northern Indian city of Allahabad. REUTERS photo
A massive power cut blacked out a vast swathe of northern India
today, leaving an estimated 300 million people without power in the worst outage in more than a decade, officials said.
Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said the entire northern grid collapsed for six hours, causing chaos in nine states including the capital New Delhi.
The cut severely disrupted transport networks, including trains and metro services, while traffic light systems also went down in some major cities causing snarls in the morning rush hour. Major hospital and airports in the region were able to function normally on emergency back-up power, officials said. “We are used to electricity going occasionally, so we have a good back-up system,” said a spokesman for Safdarjang Hospital in New Delhi, N. Makwana.
Shinde said a system overload was probably responsible for the outage. The grid was brought back online at 8:00 am, but running at only 60 percent capacity. “It is an accident, a failure,” the minister admitted to reporters, adding that a special committee was being set up to probe the incident. Limited power outages are extremely common across India, which runs a peak-hour power deficit of around 12 percent according to the Central Electricity Authority.