India’s “Black Tuesday” victimizes 670 million persons
The biggest blackout in Indian history has turned into the biggest blackout in world history.
Three more of India’s regional power grids collapsed almost simultaneously Tuesday, expanding a blackout in India’s northern portion on Monday to include almost half of the country and affecting over 670 million persons in 20 of 28 states.
The unprecedented power failure, which also encompassed New Delhi, again raised serious concerns about India's outdated power infrastructure and the government's inability to meet the country’s huge appetite for energy.
Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde blamed the historic crisis on states using up more than their allotted share of electricity.
"Everyone overdraws from the grid,” he said. “Just this (Wednesday) morning I held a meeting with power officials from the states and I gave directions that states that overdraw should be punished. We have given instructions that their power supply could be cut.”
The new power failure affected some 670 million people, which is double the population of the United States. Analysts noted the unusually vast extent of the outage that stretched from the border with Myanmar in the northeast to the Pakistani border about 3 000 kilometres away.
Its impact, however, was softened by Indians' familiarity with frequent blackouts and the widespread use of backup generators for major businesses and key facilities such as hospitals and airports.
New Delhi's Metro rail system, which serves almost two million people a day, was quickly immobilized for the second day in a row.
In West Bengal, express trains and local electric trains were immediately paralyzed. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said it would take at least 12 hours to restore power. Office workers were told to go home.
"The situation is very grave. We are doing everything to restore power," West Bengal Power Minister Manish Gupta said
“Black Tuesday” is already the largest power outage ever recorded and eclipsed “Black Monday” that affected 370 million people in northern India only this Monday. The third largest blackout affected 100 million people in Indonesia in 2005, according to media reports.