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Aug 01, 2012 at 01:24am IST

India faces worst blackout as grids collapse hits 20 states, 60 crore people

New Delhi: Three electricity grids connecting more than 20 states and the national capital collapsed on Tuesday, triggering a major power crisis across the country. The power crisis was the second in two days.

The blackout in 20 states across north, eastern and north-eastern India affected more than 60 crore people and severely impacted train services in six railway zones, bringing 300 trains to halt.

ALSO SEE Northern, Eastern grids restored partially

According to the latest report, while 82 per cent of power could be restored in the northern region, around 65 per cent was restored in the eastern part. However, the power was completely restored in Delhi and the north eastern region.

The worst sufferers were 265 miners who got trapped in coal mines in West Bengal and Jharkhand due to the power outage. They were evacuated after hours of agony.

ALSO SEE Blame game among states over massive blackout

Meanwhile, in the national capital, thousands of Metro commuters had a harrowing time when the trains stopped inside the tunnels as transmission lines tripped at 1 pm. The power collapse triggered disruption in Metro and train services, crippled water supply and choked roads due to non-functional traffic lights.

For the first time, the three inter-state transmission networks - Northern Grid, Eastern Grid and North-Eastern Grid - tripped together. While no official reason was given for the failure, sources said the trouble started in the Eastern Grid.

Speaking to mediapersons about the crisis, Sushil Kumar Shinde, who shifted from the Power Ministry to the Home Ministry on Tuesday, put the blame of the grid failure on the states that have been over drawing power. He said, "We had warned several states about overdrawing of power. So we had to face second grid failure in less than 24 hours."

He also warned the states against overdrawing electricity above their limits, saying, "If states overdraw from their regular quota, they will be penalised."

Earlier, Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd chairman R K Nayak said that the problem was difficult to be located because of a complex network.

He further said that some sections are creating problems due to over drawing of power, but the glitch would be plugged by night.

Nayak, however, said he could not give any assurance without analysing all the details.

The blackout also gave an opportunity to the Opposition to hit out at the government over its failure to prevent the power crisis.

Gujarat Chief Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Narendra Modi posted a tweet saying, "Pradhan Mantri ji, 60 crore people and 19 states are in darkness. Country wants to know is there any coalition dharma you are following here too?"

The grid failure and the chaos came on a day when, in a Cabinet reshuffle, Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde was moved to the Home Ministry and Corporate Affairs Minister Veerappa Moily was given the additional charge of power.

The states that got affected due to the grid failure were:

Northern Grid states: Delhi, Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand.

Eastern Grid states: West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar

North East Grid states: Sikkim, Assam, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunanchal Pradesh.

With Additional Inputs from PTI