The electricity outage across a large swathe of India on Tuesday has brought into focus the crying need for reforms in the power sector. Will it finally shoock the government into action, wonders Jagdeep Worah
The massive power outages on Monday and Tuesday, said to be the biggest in world history which left more than half of India in the dark, has brought into sharp focus India's perennially underperforming power sector.
Power cuts are routine across India, except perhaps in one or two of the better-governed states – notably Gujarat. Indians have learnt to 'adjust' and live with long-lasting power cuts; and the sales of small oil-powered generators in the country is undoubtedly the highest in the world.
But 'Black Tuesday' was unprecedented even in India. Three of the country's five transmission grids collapsed on Tuesday, cutting power to all but the peninsular states and depriving some 670 million people of electricity, throwing transport and essential services out of gear. Tuesday's blackout followed a similar breakdown across the north on Monday.
The blackout has been officially blamed on four states – Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh – overdrawing power from the grid well beyond their entitlement.
However, the actual malaise obviously runs much deeper.
Power shortages have been a part of Indian life ever since Independence, and the problem has been greatly exacerbated as India's economy grows at an unprecedented rate, greatly increasing the demand for power.