M. Veerappa Moily, who has since 1 August been India’s minister responsible for power (taking over from Sushilkumar Shinde following a reshuffle of ministerial portfolios) has given assurances that the reasons for the widespread 30 and 31 July blackouts, which affected about half the population, will be “thoroughly looked into and workable solutions found.”

He summarised what happened as follows: “On 30 July, a disturbance occurred in the northern region grid at 0235 hours, which led to failure of power in … Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, NCT of Delhi and Chandigarh Union Territory. The northern grid was meeting a load of nearly 35 000 MW prior to the disturbance. Restoration work was taken up immediately and essential services like railways, metro and airports were restored by 8.00 am on 30 July and the whole system was fully restored by 4.00 pm.

“However, a similar disturbance at 1.00 pm on 31 July led to collapse of the northern, eastern and north eastern grids affecting a consumer load of nearly 55 000 MW. During this disturbance western region and southern region were not affected. Power supply was restored within 2 hours, ie by 3.30 pm, to all emergency and essential services such as railways, metro, mines and airports. Near normalcy in all the three grids affected by this disturbance was restored by 8.00 pm on 31 July itself.”

He noted that “although the grid was brought back into operation with great speed we need to take remedial measures to prevent the recurrence of disruption of such a magnitude” and called for an immediate review of the transfer capability of inter-regional and other critical links. He said the government would look at “increasing congestion charges and curbing over-withdrawals” by the regions and has requested that work on strengthening inter-regional links be “taken up on a war footing.”