Mumbai (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The lights come back in India
today after two days of power outages that left than 600 million people in the
dark more. The
three power grids in the north, northeast and east of the country collapsed, affecting
20 of 28 states in the country. The
power outage threw small and big cities into chaos, causing traffic jams,
accidents, serious disruption to the rail network and subway transportation, in addition to the
daily problems related to lack of electricity in homes. In
West Bengal, more than 200 miners were trapped
underground, but thanks to emergency facilities were brought to safety. According
Energy Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, the blackout was due to excessive energy demands
made by some states that exceeded the allowed quotas.
Outages are common in Indian cities, due to a general lack of energy and obsolete electricity networks. However, the collapse of such a vast connection system is rare. According to analysts, a similar blackout is the legacy of 60 years of under-investment in the sector, which makes the third largest economy in Asia one of the most backward countries in terms of the procurement and supply of electricity.
Michael Parker, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. in Hong Kong, explains: "The immediate cause of a blackout like this seems almost trivial: To keep the lights on, India needs to add power capacity, build robust transmission and distribution systems, ensure fuel supply and transport and reform power pricing. Most of that is expensive. To do this, it needs capital. "
Manmohan Singh, Indian prime minister, is aware of the need for new and better infrastructure, and early June launched a 1000 billion dollars plan which promises new roads, ports and highways within the next five years. Yet, at present the situation shows no sign of improving. The Coal India Ltd, the largest coal producer in the world, cannot meet national demands. More than half of Indian energy production depends on the fossil fuel. Adding to the acute shortage of coal are the monsoon rains: being scarce, they are affecting farmers and hydroelectric plants.
The biggest problem, however, is the cost. According to Parker fact, the government must seek to reduce costs of production and supply of energy, since almost 800 million Indians - more than half of the total population - live on less than 2 dollars per day.