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Northern India in darkness as power grid fails, train services disrupted

New Delhi, July 30:  Most parts of north India reeled under severe power outages today, due to collapse of the northern electricity transmission grid early in the morning.  The collapse of the Northern Power Grid

PTI PTI
Updated on: July 30, 2012 14:19 IST
northern india in darkness as power grid fails train
northern india in darkness as power grid fails train services disrupted

New Delhi, July 30:  Most parts of north India reeled under severe power outages today, due to collapse of the northern electricity transmission grid early in the morning. 




The collapse of the Northern Power Grid impacted public transport systems including, Railways and Delhi Metro.  Normalcy is likely to be restored by the afternoon. 

“The fault is not known as yet...Somewhere near Agra, a failure has happened. We will enquire that,” Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said.

Even though the exact reason for the grid failure is yet to be ascertained, official sources said that many lines tripped, possibly due to over-withdrawal of power by some states.
“A lot of load has been restored, especially for the essential services such as Railways.

The connectivity of thermal plants (supplying power to northern region) to the grid is expected to be fully restored in the next four to five hours,” POSOCO Chief Executive Officer S K Soonee told PTI. 

Power System Operation Corporation Ltd (POSOCO), part of state-run Power Grid, manages the transmission grids in the country.

“Emergency transmission services are being restored. The work is on and in a few hours, the National Grid would be completely restored,” Power Secretary P Uma Shankar told PTI. 

According to officials, electricity from the Eastern and Western Grids is being diverted to the Northern Grid.  The Northern Grid, which is estimated to cater to around 28 per cent of country's population, had failed due to fog moisture in January 2010.

One of the largest in the country, it covers nine regions Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh,Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, J&K and Chandigarh.  As per the National Load Despatch Centre (NLDC), Northern Grid was affected at around 2.35 AM today.

NLDC is the apex body to ensure smooth functioning of the national power system. Officials said that services of about 200 trains were affected due to the power failure.

Most parts of Delhi went without electricity for about eight hours due to the Grid collapse.

“Delhi government or power distribution companies have no role to play in this crisis. It was a major technical fault in the Grid. We expect the situation to be normalised in the next four-five hours (by afternoon),” Delhi government officials said.

The situation was no different in Punjab and Haryana, where engineers were trying hard to restore the supply, officials said in Chandigarh.

“It is going to take at least 4-5 hours to restore the power supply in entire Punjab,” Punjab State Power Corporation Ltd, Director Distribution Arun Verma said. 

Haryana Special Power Secretary, Tarun Bajaj said that though efforts were on to restore the supply, “it may take few hours to bring situation to normalcy. Every unit takes time to restart”.
In Uttar Pradesh, a top official said that about 50 per cent of the supply had been restored.

“The power supply, which was severely affected after 2.30 AM due to failure in the Northern Grid has been restored in 50 per cent of the areas in the state”, Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Ltd (UPPCL) Managing Director Avnish Awasthi told PTI in Lucknow.

He said that supply in Lucknow and Varanasi was restored by 6.30 AM. By 10.30 AM, it was restored in 50 per cent areas in the state, he said, adding that the supply had been
re-started in eastern Uttar Pradesh.

In Rajasthan, the situation had started improving in some parts of the state. Electricity supply had been restored in areas of Jaipur and the supply would further improve due course, an official in the state capital said. 

Power Trading Director P S Chandelia said that due to rainfall last night, the electricity demand had decreased in Rajasthan.

Almost entire Delhi went without power for about eight hours today due to the collapse of the Northern Grid, putting people to misery on a humid day when water distribution and Metro services were largely affected. 

Top Delhi Power Department officials said the technical failure near Agra resulted in the collapse of the Northern Grid, which supplies electricity to Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Rajashtan, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. 

The main casualty of the power failure was the water distribution system as well as Metro services but operations at the airport remained largely unaffected as diesel generating back-up system was put to use.  Metro train services on all six corridors were affected since morning and the Metro was able to run trains only from 7 am, an hour later than the usual time of 6 am. 

When the services began at 7 am, only 25 per cent of trains were put on all six corridors affecting commuters. The services were fully restored finally by 9 am.  As there was no power, all the water treatment plants in the city could not treat water, affecting the entire distribution system in the city.

Officials said various power generation plants running on hydel, coal and gas had to shut operations due to the failure and power supply could be fully restored in the afternoon.

“Delhi government or power distribution companies have no role to play in this crisis. It was a major technical fault in the Grid. We expect the situation to be normalised in the next four-five hours (by afternoon),” they said.

Delhi government officials said Power Minister Harun Yusuf is constantly monitoring the situation and officials are in touch with the Union Power Ministry and Power Grid Corporation, which maintains the Northern Grid.  Officials in the power discom companies said the areas under their jurisdiction had to suffer power cuts as supply was snapped.

As majority of the Metro trains were taken off services due to power failure, the frequency of trains dropped to an all-time low of 20 minutes on a few corridors in the first few hours in the morning.

Sources said that though the failure in the Northern Grid is expected to be rectified only in the evening, Delhi Metro was getting hydel power from Bhutan on priority basis along with power from AIIMS and Prime Minister's House to run the services.

As services were not available in the morning, people were forced to take over-crowded buses and auto rickshaws.  Passengers alleged that there were no proper announcements about the power failure at Metro stations.  Delhi Metro carries around 18 lakh passengers a day.  “It was a horrible night.

It was a bit humid and without fans, it was difficult. The morning also proved disastrous as we could not get water as motors could not be operated,” said Manjari Mishra, an office-goer.  The minimum temperature was recorded at 28 degree Celsius while the humidity was at 81 per cent.

A Delhi airport official said as soon as there was a disruption in power supply, all essential services like flight arrival and departure, check-in, baggage handling, aerobridge services were shifted to the back-up system.  However, there were reports of air conditioning not functioning in Terminal 1D and some portions of Terminal 3.  Also, there was no power in some retail outlets at the airport. “Overall ninety-five percent of our services remained unaffected”, a spokesperson said.

“All flight operations at IGIA are normal with no cancellations and delays. The power supply was restored to DG Systems instantaneously and has been running smoothly,” the spokesperson said.

Train services were disrupted in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh due to collapse of the northern grid this morning, leaving a large number of passengers stranded.

A number of passenger trains bound for Delhi and beyond, Chandigarh, Amritsar, Jammu, Ferozepur and Kalka were stranded at way side stations due to failure of electricity, a senior railway official told PTI here.

He said efforts were on to move the passenger trains with diesel engines after detaching them from running goods trains which would remain halted at way side railway stations.  The stations where passenger trains were stranded include Ambala, Kurukshetra, Phillaur, Sirhind, Ludhiana, Phagwara and Karnal.

Some trains were stranded mid way as the electric engines hauling them came to a halt due to failure of power at about 2.30 AM.

Kalka Chandigarh Delhi Shatabdi Express left the local station 90 minutes behind scheduled departure of 6.53 AM after a diesel engine was attached to it.

The trains affected include Amritsar Delhi Shatabdi Express, Allahabad Chandigarh Unchahaar, Lucknow Chandigarh Sadbhavna, Howraha Kalka Mail, Delhi Jammu Mail and a number of other super fast, express, passenger and local trains.

The official said that the signal system had also blanked at a number of places due to the power failure.

A three-member panel will look into the failure of the Northern Grid, which led to power outages throughout the region today, and submit its report in 15 days, Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said.  The Grid would be completely restored in the next two hours, he said.

“We have set up a three-member committee to look into the collapse of the Northern Power Grid. The panel will submit its report in the next 15 days,” Shinde told reporters here. 

Central Electricity Authority Chairperson A S Bakshi, Power Grid Corporation Chairman and Managing Director A M Nayak and Power System Operation Corporation Chief Executive Officer S K Soonee will make up the panel.
 
On the possible reasons for the collapse, the Minister said they would be known once the panel submits the report.  Responding to a query on whether over-drawal by states led to the grid's failure, Shinde said, “It cannot be said whether over drawing by states is one of the reasons or there is any other reason. The panel will find out. 

“Right now, we are getting additional 8,000 MW hydro power, including from Bhutan, to meet our demand.” The northern region is getting power from the Eastern and Western grids, he added.

A major collapse of the Northern Grid had happened in 2001-02, he said.

There was a failure due to fog moisture in January 2010.  The Northern Grid, which caters to about 28 per cent of the country's population, covers nine regions—Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, J&K and Chandigarh. 

The normal frequency at which electricity is transmitted through the Northern Grid ranges from 48.5 to 50.2 Hz. At the time of the collapse around 2.35 AM, the grid frequency was 50.46 Hz, a few notches above normal.  This could have tripped the supply, Shinde said.

A three-member panel will look into the failure of the Northern Grid, which led to power outages throughout the region today, and submit its report in 15 days, Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said.  The Grid would be completely restored in the next two hours, he said.

“We have set up a three-member committee to look into the collapse of the Northern Power Grid. The panel will submit its report in the next 15 days,” Shinde told reporters here.

Central Electricity Authority Chairperson A S Bakshi, Power Grid Corporation Chairman and Managing Director A M Nayak and Power System Operation Corporation Chief Executive Officer S K Soonee will make up the panel. 

On the possible reasons for the collapse, the Minister said they would be known once the panel submits the report. 

Responding to a query on whether over-drawal by states led to the grid's failure, Shinde said, “It cannot be said whether over drawing by states is one of the reasons or there is any other reason. The panel will find out.

“Right now, we are getting additional 8,000 MW hydro power, including from Bhutan, to meet our demand.” The northern region is getting power from the Eastern and Western grids, he added.

A major collapse of the Northern Grid had happened in 2001-02, he said.

There was a failure due to fog moisture in January 2010.  The Northern Grid, which caters to about 28 per cent of the country's population, covers nine regions—Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, J&K and Chandigarh. 

The normal frequency at which electricity is transmitted through the Northern Grid ranges from 48.5 to 50.2 Hz. At the time of the collapse around 2.35 AM, the grid frequency was 50.46 Hz, a few notches above normal.  This could have tripped the supply, Shinde said.

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