India Suffers Power Outage, Power Minister Gets Promotion to Home Ministry

Sushil Kumar Shinde

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New Delhi – Incredible India, the nation’s slogan designed to promote tourism and travel to India, took on an ironic meaning as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reshuffled his cabinet, promoting Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde to the position of the new Home Minister, while the country suffered a second day of a massive power breakdown that affected nearly half the country, leaving more than 650 million people in the dark.

There was widespread panic and frustration as the country’s transport system screeched to a halt for another day, with trains carrying millions of passengers stopped arbitrarily and traffic signals stalled.

According to reports, there was failure in three electric grids and the affected region extended from Kashmir in the Himalayas in the East to West Bengal and North East Assam, while New Delhi and Kolkata braced for humid, dark days ahead.

Line Mark Rugholt, Director of Culturewise, who has lived in Green Park, South Delhi for two years, said in an email to India America Today, “We are used to smaller power cuts, so what that means is that all the diesel generators are started outside shops and markets, in order to keep electricity and AC inside. The unusual thing today, is that trains, the metro and all traffic lights have been out of order and not working.”

Abha Khetarpal, President of Cross the Hurdles, echoed from New Delhi, saying, “Chaos was also seen on the busy roads of Delhi when the traffic signals stopped functioning.”

Rain, water logging, bad road conditions and power failures combined to create an unbearable solution, Khetarpal noted, saying, “4000 traffic personnel were deployed to handle the situation. The situation was so bad that Delhi Disaster Management Authority teams had to be called out to help in sorting out the traffic tangle. The distances of 15 minutes were covered in an hour.” 


Earlier on Monday, there was also a blackout, but Tuesday’s power outage encompassed nearly half of the populous country with a staggering population of more than a billion plus. On Monday, the outage affected seven northern states, leaving more than 300 million people without electricity for nearly ten hours. On Tuesday, nearly two dozen states were hit with nearly 700 millions reeling under the blackout.

With an award of Home Ministry under his belt, former Power Minister Shinde blamed the states saying, “The reason is overdrawing of power by many states. I have put in all my people at the job, we are getting power from the western region and some other places.”

Indian industry was flabbergasted with the understated description by Chandrajit Banerjee, director general of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), of Monday’s blackout as “extremely unfortunate.”

Noting that the impact was on “not just businesses but also essential services across North India,” Banerjee said, “The increasing gap between the demand and supply of electricity has been a matter for concern. CII has consistently been highlighting that urgent steps need to be taken for addressing key issues ailing the power sector, such as improving the supply of coal for thermal power plants and reforming the state distribution utilities.”

Banerjee called the massive power outage “an urgent reminder for addressing these issues on priority.” (IATNS)

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