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Massive power cut strikes northern India

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A power cut has halted hundreds of trains, forcing hospitals and airports to use back-up generators and leaving 370 million people without electricity in northern India.

It hit a swathe of the country on Monday morning  at  2100 GMT affecting people in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan states.

The blackout, one of the worst to hit India in a decade, highlighted the nation's inability to feed a growing hunger for energy as it strives to become a regional economic power.

The country's northern grid crashed because it could no longer keep up with the huge demand for power in the hot summer, officials in the state of Uttar Pradesh said.

Sushil Kumar Shinde, India's power minister, said later on Monday that 60 per cent of the supply had been restored and the rest would be reinstated soon.

The grid was drawing power from neighboring grids as well as getting hydroelectric power from the mountain kingdom of Bhutan.

Infrastructure gaps

New Delhi's renowned Metro transit system, with 1.8 million daily riders, was forced to shut down for hours during the morning commute.

Some trains across the northern region were stranded when their electric engines failed. Others were delayed by hours as they were hooked to diesel engines.

Officials said restoring services to hospitals and transport systems were a priority.

India's Central Electricity Authority reports power deficits of about 8 per cent in recent months.

But any connection to the grid remains a luxury for many as one-third of India's households do not even have electricity to power a light bulb, according to last year's census.

Avnish Awasthi, Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation chief, blamed the grid collapse on states drawing more than their allotted power to meet the summer demand.

Earlier this month, angry crowds blocked traffic and clashed with police after blackouts in the Delhi suburb of Gurgaon that houses many high-rise apartment blocks and offices.

With no power in some neighborhoods for more than 24 hours, people erected blockades that paralysed traffic for several hours.


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