India's record power outage causes surprisingly little outage
While India's daily life was disrupted with a second day of power outages, life was moving on. Diesel generators were fired up, and some people just shrugged and moved on. But at the government level, politicians were vowing action to keep this from happening again.
Some 700 million Indians, more than half of that country's population and about 10 percent of the global population, was without power on Tuesday after a massive failure of three of the country's power grids.
For about 300 million people, it was the second day in a row of giant power failures, cutting people's access to clean water, public transportation and traffic lights.
According to The New York Times, it's the largest power outage in world history. But, for many Indians, the blackout elicited little reaction.
"In the first place, India’s grid is still being developed and does not reach into many homes. An estimated 300 million Indians have no routine access to electricity," the Times wrote. "Second, localized failures are routine. Diners do not even pause in conversation when the lights blink out in a restaurant."
Power outages are so common, in fact, that many businesses and individual already employ diesel generators to bridge temporary outages or, in this case, provide electricity as the government tries to determine what caused three grids, northern, eastern and northeastern, to collapse.
The BBC reported that Indian officials were blaming overuse by certain states for overwhelming the still-fragile grids and knocking them out.
Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, appearing on national TV, asked states to stop taking more power than they were allotted. But he backed up his request with threats as well.
"I have also instructed my officials to penalise the states which overdraw from the grid," he said, according to the BBC.
Reports in India have named Uttar Pradesh as being among the states overdrawing. About 20 of 28 Indian states are without power.
As Tuesday closed, the northeastern grid had been restored, but the other two grids were still only partially operating.
The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India, according to the Times, said Monday’s power problem “totally disturbed the normal life and has severely impacted the economic activities.”
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