Welcome to my blog: this is the story of our adventures in India: the wonderful, the strange, the downright bizzare & the not-so-nice. So sit back & enjoy the ride as we take you on a journey across the sub-continent (& everywhere in-between).
Thursday, August 2, 2012
How's this for a promotion ??
So…you’re the minister who happens to have presided over two of the world’s largest blackouts, that has affected nearly 1/10 of the world’s population. 1/10 !!
What do think will happen to you ??
Read the following articles to find out:
India in dark as minister Sushilkumar Shinde rises
A barber in Kolkata goes about his work by candlelight during one of the blackouts that have affected 680 million across 22 Indian states. Picture: AP Source: AP
THE Indian minister who presided over the world's two biggest blackouts this week has been promoted to Home Minister, even as 680 million people across 22 states struggle without power.
Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde described Monday's massive power cuts as the "rarest of the rare". But people across the country were again forced to make do without power in stiflingly humid monsoonal conditions on Tuesday and early yesterday after large sections of the national grid failed for the second time in 48 hours.
The collapse of key infrastructure has humiliated a nation keen to woo foreign business and promote itself as a rising superpower.
The blackout on Tuesday was the largest known in history in terms of the population affected, according to an estimate by the Associated Press news agency.
The second-worst was India's outage on Monday, which hit 370 million people, followed by a 2005 outage in Indonesia, which left almost 100 million in the dark.
This week, traffic lights went out across the Indian capital, causing gridlock on Delhi's already chaotic roads, power was lost in hospitals, train passengers were stranded on tracks, coalminers trapped and water supplies cut to millions of residents.
Close to 200 miners were trapped underground for hours in West Bengal's Burdwan coalfield as rescue efforts were hampered by the power failures, and another 65 in the Bharat coking coal facility in Jharkhand.
About 300 train services were affected nationwide. While electricity was restored to 70 per cent of Delhi yesterday, large areas of eastern India, including several of the country's poorest states, remained cut off for hours.
Government ministers accused states including Rajasthan, Punjab, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh of drawing more than their fair share from the grid.
The state leaders have denied responsibility. But national power bureaucrats and industry analysts suggested yesterday the cause was more likely to be a combination of states overdrawing allowances and technical failures.
"Repeated occurrences of grid failures carry a very negative image of India, when already sentiments about the country are low on account of the current economic situation," Confederation of Indian Industry chief Chandrajit Banerjee said yesterday.
"As one of the emerging economies of the world , which is home to almost a sixth of the world population, it is imperative that our basic infrastructure requirements are in keeping with India's aspirations."
The cabinet reshuffle of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's foundering government was forced by the elevation of its veteran former finance minister Pranab Mukherjee this month to the presidential palace.
The former home minister, P. Chidambaram, one of the government's only real cabinet performers, has been sent back to the Finance Ministry with instructions to push through further market liberalisation in order to kickstart India's flagging growth rate.
But newspaper editorials savaged the government for elevating Mr Shinde to the prestigious portfolio, and handing the Power Ministry to an overloaded Corporate Ministry even as chaos rules in India's power sector.
"Not content with letting him put more than 600 million people across 22 states into darkness, the high command now wants Shinde to be in charge of keeping all 1.2 billion of us secure," the Mail Today thundered, adding that "incompetence surely pays."
The Hindu and Times of India blamed a combination of "poor long-term planning and an abysmal lack of grid discipline" for the cuts and warned that India ignored the need to augment its current power capacity at its peril.
Additional reporting: agencies
Copyright 2011 News Limited. All times AEST (GMT +10).
India's promoted power minister hails 'excellent' performance
India's energy minister has rated his own performance as "excellent" despite presiding over the world's worst ever power breakdown that left hundreds of millions of people without power.
A girl reads a book by candle light on the outskirts of Gauhati Photo: AP
By Rahul Bedi in New Delhi
3:24PM BST 01 Aug 2012
Sushil Kumar Shinde, who has now been promoted to home affairs minister, declined to take any responsibility for the two crippling outages when the northern, eastern and northeastern power grids collectively collapsed affecting more than half of India's population of 1.2 billion.
This, in turn led to severe transport, communication and industrial disruption, hospitals and emergency services ceased to function and over 260 miners were trapped underground in eastern India after their electric lifts stopped working.
Tuesday's was the second outage that came some 24 hours after the country had barely recovered from Monday's power failure which left 370 million people without electricity.
"People are unnecessarily angry over the blackouts as India is expert in the power generation sector" Mr Shinde said adding that as power minister he had ordered an inquiry into the breakdown to be completed within a fortnight.
He said "critics should understand the prevailing constraints" on the power sector and that unlike the US, that took four days to restore power following its massive blackout in 2003 it took India "merely a few hours" to rectify the faults.
Senior power ministry officials, however privately conceded that similar outages could well recur as abysmally inadequate fail safe measures were in place. They said power transmission lines were obsolete and distribution systems archaic and riddled with corruption.
Adding to the problem is that India is coal-reliant for more than half its power generation; but coal supplies are dwindling as contracts to mine it were swathed in a massive corruption scandal.
A recent government survey revealed that the majority of coal-fuelled plants had less than seven days of stock even as the demand for power soared in searing hot temperatures that were aggravated by poor monsoon showers.
Hydroelectric power too was in short supply as most Indian reservoirs were more than half empty due to inadequate rain.
Meanwhile, power supplies across India limped back to normal on Tuesday evening in almost all the 19 of 29 affected provinces, including the federal capital New Delhi except for parts of eastern Bengal state and its capital Calcutta that had to wait till early morning for electricity to return.
The media, meanwhile, excoriated prime minister Manmohan Singh's government over the blackout with newspaper headlines like "Superpower India, RIP" and "Powerless and Clueless". Most mocked India's status as a nuclear weapon power and its aspirations of becoming an economic powerhouse.
The Times of India newspaper correctly captured the country's mood when it declared on its front page that moving power minister Shinde was "like changing the captain of the Titanic when it's reeling after hitting a giant iceberg".