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Massive power outage grips India for second day

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
August 1st, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Millions of people - more than in the entire European Union, are struggling with a massive power outage in India for the second day in a row. Officials say that India's northern and eastern power grids have collapsed in the sweltering summer heat. More than half of India's population has no electricity in a dozen states.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - General Manager of the Grid VK Agrawal has confirmed the massive failure. "We are busy with the revival right now... Both the northern and eastern grids have collapsed. Please allow us to address the problem," Agrawal told AFP.

New Delhi's subway system is at a standstill, as well as its traffic lights. While traffic policemen were filling in, but the blackout had resulted in widespread traffic jams.

While power remains out in the business centers, the VIP areas that house ministers are now receiving power.

SK Mohanty, a power official in the eastern state of Orissa, confirmed that the eastern grid had also been knocked out. The reason for the failure is under investigation.

The eastern grid covers five states, including West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Sikkim and Orissa.

RN Rayak, the chairman of the Power Grid Corporation of India told reporters that he expected power to be restored to all areas later today.

One of the most distressing factors of the outage are hundreds of coal miners trapped in West Bengal because the power cut left them unable to operate their lifts.

"We are trying to rescue the coal miners. All efforts are on to resume power supplies. You need power supplies to run the lifts in the underground mines," Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister of West Bengal, told reporters in the state capital Kolkata.

"Over 200 miners are stuck in several coal mines. They cannot come out till the power service is restored," Niladri Roy, general manager at Eastern Coalfields in Kolkata told reporters

Roy assuaged fears that the miners were "in no danger," as they were in a well-ventilated area.

In laying blame for the massive power failure, Federal Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde blamed the outage on states drawing more than their allotted share of electricity.

"Everyone overdraws from the grid. Just this 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," he told journalists.

Major hospitals and airports have been able to function normally on emergency back-up power on both days, but train services were severely disrupted.

Industrial lobby groups say the outages accentuate the government's inability to address India's acute electricity shortfall.

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