India power cut hits millions, among world's worst outages
By Frank Jack Daniel
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Hundreds of millions of people across India were left without power on Tuesday in one of the world's worst blackouts, trapping miners, stranding train travelers and plunging hospitals into darkness when grids collapsed for the second time in two days.
Stretching from Assam, near China, to the Himalayas and the northwestern deserts of Rajasthan, the outage covered states where half of India's 1.2 billion people live and embarrassed the government, which has failed to build up enough power capacity to meet soaring demand.
"Even before we could figure out the reason for yesterday's failure, we had more grid failures today," said R. N. Nayak, chairman of the state-run Power Grid Corporation.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had vowed to fast-track stalled power and infrastructure projects as well as introduce free market reforms aimed at reviving India's flagging economy. But he has drawn fire for dragging his feet.
By nightfall, power was back up in the humid capital, New Delhi and much of the north, but a senior official said only a third was restored in the rural state of Uttar Pradesh, itself home to more people than Brazil.
The cuts in such a widespread area of the world's second most populous nation appeared to be one of the biggest in history, and hurt Indians' pride as the country seeks to emerge as a major force on the international stage.
"It's certainly shameful. Power is a very basic amenity and situations like these should not occur," said Unnayan Amitabh, 19, an intern with HSBC bank in New Delhi, before giving up on the underground train system and flagging down an auto-rickshaw to get home.
"They talk about big ticket reforms but can't get something as essential as power supply right." Continued...