Power Grid Failure & Its Social Implications

Aniruddha bapu, bapu, aniruddha, power, Electricity, supply, grid, failure, The Delhi Disaster Management Authority, disaster,
By now everyone of us must have come to know about the collapse of eastern, northeastern and northern electricity grids that knocked out power in 20 of 29 states and affected some 620 million Indians (around half of India’s population and 9% of the world’s population) causing havoc at train stations, airports, hospitals and on roads. For instance, Delhi Metro had to evacuate passengers from trains that stopped mid-journey. The Delhi Disaster Management Authority swung into action and helped in this evacuation. Millions in rural areas were unable to draw water from wells powered by electric pumps. In the coal mines of eastern India, as a result of this blackout, around 200 miners were trapped underground but were said to have been subsequently rescued.
It was one of the biggest power outages in the world. The blackout was unusual in its reach, stretching from the border with Myanmar in the northeast to the border of Pakistan about 1,870 miles away. The basic reason for this power failure is that the state electricity boards are not abiding by their power quotas and they do not manage distribution efficiently to avoid demand crunches.India’s demand for electricity has soared along with its economy in recent years, but utilities have been unable to keep pace with the growing needs. India has had a power deficit of about 12% in recent months.The power deficit was worsened by a weak monsoon that lowered hydroelectric generation and kept temperatures higher, further increasing electricity demand. But the ground reality is that over 50% of India suffers from low efficiency due to poor quality or lack of infrastructure. Over a third of our population has no electricity at all and further 40% suffer from long blackouts and wide voltage swings. This has affected our agricultural and industrial output, thereby affecting our total national productivity.Aniruddha bapu, bapu, aniruddha, power, Electricity, supply, grid, failure, The Delhi Disaster Management Authority, disaster,This power shortage has social aspect also. The urban areas are getting comparatively more regular electric supply as transmission losses are much less and the recovery of bill amount is more in these areas. The supplier companies are more interested in supplying power to urban areas rather than rural areas, thereby causing social unrest. This has been a perennial problem which has created a severe rural – urban imbalance. Due to lack of employment opportunities there, the rural population is compelled to migrate towards urban areas which often results in creation and proliferation of slums in cities. On the other hand due to the non-availability of agricultural labour in the rural areas, there is a growing risk of the area under cultivation for agriculture falling with a consequent reduction in the agricultural output of the country.If India wants to be a super power and wants to maintain its growth of economy, it will have to give due justice to the needs of both the urban and rural population. India has no choice but to keep pace with its power requirements and has to strive to reach a stage of “Continuous Power Supply”  in near future.

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  1. Hari Om, Sameer Dada,
    After reading the article,it reminded of same type of power failure faced by Mumbai & Maharashtra some where in the year 90's that time i was travelling in train luckily it was at thane platform when power failed due to Cascade Tripping.All passenger stuck up at thane, after 8 hours the supply was normalized.In the next day paper detail of world power failure record has been given in that, it was mentioned longest power failure of 9 hours was in America. India's power requirement & utilization is different region wise due to climatic condition and life style but still i personally feel grid system in India is best designed & maintained some times accident occur and its once in decade. India's financial condition to invest in power sector & its recovery from consumption is not good because of various factor technical,theft,non payment of bill by various agencies of government,semi government,private sector on various reason all the state electricity board are in loss that is why reorganization & private sector entered in power sector. The only present day solution to this problem is Managing Power Sector differently for recovery of bills,reducing transmission losses & Managing load of city and village as per production out put towards society viz,Agriculture given first priority & health sector so on.

  2. The last few months have taken the heaviest toll on India. From the recent downgrade in ratings from S&P and Fitch, to the latest Power Grid failure, the government has been unable to prove India's worth. It is not just infra or economy, Assam's condition, India's performance at the Olympics, new scmas being discovered every day, inflation going off the charts, all point in one direction – the government has failed and that reforms really need to be brought in if India has to be a superpower as was being discussed a couple of years back.

    The Power Grid failure highlights the inadequacy of the authorities to deal with increasing demand. If the demand supply ratio is not balanced, the years ahead will be much worse. Let alone the individual customer, industry will also suffer. More importantly, all this will spiral into a devaluation of prospects in India which will lead to foreign investors thinking twice before entering India.

    India must learn from China – well, the good things at least. from being a country that no one understood or knew, to becoming one of the most sought after destinations in terms of trade and business, China is a living case study before us.

    We need the power centres in the decision making roles to develop an intent to help India develop faster. The intent then needs to change to interest and then action. Without this, any stage of development will just be a matter of discussions.

    Dada, your blog really brings out the issue in full glory. We need to get to the stage of “Continuous Power Supply” across the country, without any discrimination, before it is too late!

  3. Hari om , Samirdada . Really an eye opener article. I have read the news in newspaper , but your article has given apt analysis about Power grid failure. The power grid collapse triggered a blame game among the northern states . But actually it is a matter of investigation. You have rightly pointed out the root cause and its solution too!!!
    Gujarat state sets an example. Gujrat – A power surplus state with near 24-hour electricity supply not just in cities like Ahmedabad and Vadodara but in all the 18,000 villages. Even now, the Gujarat government plans to further sharply increase power generation from 13,500 MW now to 18,000 MW by the end of the current year.
    The Gujrat government was able to ensure almost 24 hour electricity supply, especially in villages, by implementing the Jyoti Gram project. Even the Government of India has accepted this as a flagship scheme for the 12th Five-Year plan (2012-17) for supplying round-the-clock, high-quality, three-phase power to all villages.
    We must explore and implement various non-conventional sources of energy like Solar Energy, Wind energy and tidal energy and finally as you said we have to strive to reach a stage of “Continuous Power Supply” in near future.
    Suneetaveera Karande

  4. India's recent blackout left 600 million people without electricity for two days .The unprecedented glitch came at a high price for the country's image considering the fact that as many as twenty states were affected by the power outage.
    The country's media is full of speculation over the causes of India's worst power outage ever. Economist Praveen Jha of New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University estimates that after bringing life to a near stand-still, the power outages cost around 75 million euros. As per reports , whereas the “Output” is reported to have increased by 35 per cent over the past five years which sounds impressive, the demand has been rising at 6.5 to 8.5 per cent per year. Demand overshoots supply by a fifth during peak demand.
    Dada, as you have rightly pointed out , if India wants to be a super power and wants to maintain its growth of economy, it will have to give due justice to the needs of both the urban and rural population and ensure that we reach a stage where there is “continuous power supply” in the future.

  5. Hari Om Dada,
    You have opened a very important topic and precisely mentioned the facts.
    There are two points in this topic.
    1) How can such a big grid failure occurs…. And
    2) Starvation of Electricity in rural area.
    My few positive comments are as follows:
    1)Grid failure :Under guidance of Power ministry good systems are made to monitor continuous power export and import at various circles/zones of all Electricity boards. The equipments with most advance technology are installed to avoid grid failures. Heavy penalties are imposed for breaking rules while drawing the power from grid. Hence in India frequency of such big failures is considerably reduced compare to previous years .
    However as per my information there is no technology so far that can make failure rate as zero. Hence it can happen some times. But if all concerned authorities improve the efficiencies then practically grid failure rate can come closer to zero.
    2)Starvation of Electricity : Besides enhancing power generation capacity, the government has implemented many schemes such as Rural Electrification, restructuring and renovation of all old transmission structures etc. There is good scheme for power for people below poverty line . Proper funding is also done for these schemes . Many policies are in place to encourage non conventional energy production. However very minimum benefits have reached to actual beneficiaries in Rural India due lack of efficiency ,lack of knowledge of leaders and corruption in the system. Hence I feel only strong political will and effective implementation of the policies can light up the condition of rural India.

  6. Hari om Dada, you have touched upon a very sensitive issue which is a day-to-day living issue of entire Indian population living beyond the boundaries of metro cities.

    Even after 65 years of independence, we have not been able to redress the problems relating to generation, transmission and distribution in India's power sector. The following facts could be useful to understand in present scenario the issues relating to generation, transmission and distribution of power sector.


    * India had 205,340 megawatts (MW) of installed power capacity at the end of June 2012. India's electricity generation for the fiscal year 2011-12 rose 8.1%. But it still suffered from a peak hour shortfall of 10.6%.
    * Thermal power comprised of coal, natural gas and diesel accounts for 80% of the country's generation. Coal use alone accounts for two-thirds.
    * India has a shortage of domestic coal as output at state-run Coal India , a near monopoly, has stagnated due to delayed environmental clearances, land acquisition troubles and little investment in advanced technologies.
    * Many power companies subsequently have to look for coal mines overseas and source more expensive imports.
    * In June, coal-based thermal plants ran at 72% capacity utilisation mainly due to fuel shortages and transmission constraints.
    * A shortage of domestic natural gas supplies and a weak appetite for costly imports has meant that most of the natural gas-fired power plants run at half capacity.
    * Government data shows there is an average delay of 15 months in the construction of new power plants.
    * India plans to add 88,000 MW of generation capacity in the five years from 2012-2017. The country added about 55,000 MW in the previous five-year period to March 2012.

    Transmission and Distribution:

    * Power is transferred in bulk at high voltage of 132KV and above through five regional transmission grids.
    * Power Grid Corporation of India, which oversees the transmission of electricity between states, plans to invest USD 3.6 billion in 2012/13, 11% more than a year ago, to expand capacity.
    * Average electricity demand has risen to 75-80 terawatt hours (TWh) per year from 50 TWh per year just five years ago, according to PwC India. Rising industrial consumption and higher use of electric consumer goods during the economic boom has put pressure on the grid.
    * Distribution companies, mostly state-owned, are saddled with about USD 35 billion in debt.
    * Tariffs haven't risen enough for years to cover costs for subsidies, corruption and inefficiency, nor has electricity theft been checked, forcing electricity distributors into losses as high as 40% in some states, while the country-wide average is 27%.
    * The five states posting the greatest cash losses are Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh.

  7. Just in today's news I saw sun flower shaped solar lamp and it costs $ 10/- (about Rs.550/-). We have abundance of sunlight and all it needs is 5 hours of charging in sunlight and this lamp can give light for 5 hours. The life span is 3 years. Alternative source of energy like solar power, wind power, tidal energy which are environment friendly must be looked into. The thermal power plants are shut down during these months for normal repairs as the hydro power plants work in full swing during monsoon. This year due to El Nino effect, the monsoon failed miserably and perhaps may lead to a sever drought in the whole country. Hydro power could not be generated putting huge pressure on thermal power plants. As more power was demanded due to abnormal temperatures and heat to run Airconditioners, coolers, fans etc. the grid simply collapsed resulting in outages.

  8. Hari Om Dada,

    I echo your comments. India has no option but has to keep this issue at top priority. While priortising this, we have to give special attention to non conventional energy sources like Hydro, Wind or Solar power. It is still untapped in India.

  9. हरि ओम दादा, आपण म्हंटले ते अगदी योग्यच आहे परंतू दोन दिवसापूर्वी उत्तर भारतात जोकाही लपंडाव चालू होता ती परिस्थिती खुपच भयंकर व आपत्कालीन होती. ही परिस्थिती येण्यास खालील मुद्दे ठळकपणे मनात डोकावतात.
    १)राज्यकर्त्यांचे उर्ज्या निर्मितीत झालेले अक्षम्य दुर्लक्ष.
    २)आपत्कालीन नियोजनाचा अभाव.
    ३)दोन दिवस वीज नसल्याने शेतकऱ्यांचे आणि औद्योगिक उत्पादनाचे नुकसान.
    ४)भ्रष्टाचार आपल्या पाचवीलाच पुजला आहे.
    ५)विजेचे राज्या राज्यांमधील वाटप अयोग्य.
    ६)वीज निर्मिती आणि वितरण यातील तफावत.
    ७)विजेची चोरी,गळती आणि विजेची देयके न भरणे.
    ८)वीज निर्मितीत राज्यांचे अविकसित धोरण आणि जुनाट पद्धती.
    ९)सौरउर्जा निर्मितीकडे लक्ष देणे आवश्यक निदान दिवसतरी वीज मिळाली असती.
    १०)या दुर्घटनेकडे गांभीर्याने लक्ष देणे जरुरीचे.कारण शेजारील देशांना आपली प्रगती व विकास बघवत नाही त्यामुळे देशद्रोह्यांना हाताशी धरून परत अश्या घटना हाणार नाहीत हे कश्यावरून? मुख्य म्हणजे हा योगायोग होता? का घातपात होता याकडेही लक्ष देणे गरजेचे आहे.

  10. Thank u dada for this in detail information of the situation which we otherwise would not have come across.

  11. Hari OM Dada,

    This article is a very useful source of information about the current power requirements of India. The demand is surely going to increase at an exponential rate in near future. The Indian Government needs to take effective majors to fulfill such requirements otherwise such kind of disasters can become a common problem in near future.

  12. Hari Om! Dada yes, very true. Its all of us who are responsible for this. We have to take necessary steps to prevent this and on the other hand we should save the electricity as much as possible. Because every Indian citizen should and must get cloths, food, shelter, education, and Health Services to satisfy his bare physical needs. Its not the one man's job, its the responsibility of every citizen.

  13. Hari Om Dada,

    सूर्यप्रकाशापासून वीजनिर्मिती जर कमी सूर्यप्रकाश
    असणार्‍या जर्मनीत होऊ शकते तर मग भरपूर सूर्यप्रकाश असणार्‍या भारतात का होऊ शकत नाही ?

    German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity per hour – equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity.

    To know more about Germany's solor electricity production, visit following links-




    Hari Om.

  14. Hari Om Dada,
    Perfectly said, As 'Electricity' is the primary need for everyone & it is very important, how we use it. In many offices & houses we observe wastage of electricity. We will try our level best to reduce this wastage and save electricity. But we need to think over 'Solar Energy' as well.

    As a live example in front of us, Gujarat State Electricity Corporation Limited (GSECL) is implementing the 'Solar Panel' project in their state, which not only stores the solar energy but also produces electricity & prevents stored water from being evaporated.

    I think our Central and all State Govt. needs to take inputs from Gujarat State Electricity Corporation Limited (GSECL) & implement the same at grass root level, so we will definitely over come 'Power shading' problem, and by this one day we will surely be known as a 'Super Power'.

    Shree Ram.

  15. Hari Om Dada. To be frank with you, I had seen this news in the newspaper but had not grasped the seriousness of this issue. Our Bapu always tells us that we have to keep a track of things happening around us, which is a part of our self-development. The facts mentioned by you not only explain the gravity of the electricity problem in India but also glorifies the fact that over 50% of India suffers from low efficiency due to poor quality or lack of infrastructure. Your analysis of urban and rural areas in terms of comparison of electric supply is also an eye-opener for me. Dada, as you rightly said, to maintain a stable economy growth, India will have to take major steps to eradicate this problem before it becomes unsolvable at a particular stage. But here I would also like to give a suggestion to all my Shraddhavan friends that we at our level should try to save electricity at every level; may it be at our home as well as in our offices, at Shri Harigurugram, Upasana Centers, etc. Whenever we sight any unnecessary tubelights, fans, etc. operating, we should immediately switch them off. If all Shraddhavans implement this at an individual level, it will definitely be a considerable contribution in power saving. Last but not the least, Shreeram to you Dada for sharing this valuable information.

  16. The situation that India has faced is very grim. The electricity failure has implications on many other facets which also should be taken care of.
    1. The common man is the most troubled person at this juncture. Such an outage will affect the common man the most.
    2. Due to the outage lasting for more than 48hrs, business also is affected in some way. The time taken to sort out the outage has implication on business at Stock Market in Mumbai also. The foreign investors will think twice before taking any step. Such a doubt will cater huge Forex losses which is very crucial for India in such a financial market.
    3. Some offices use generators during the power outage which run on fuels like diesel which again means more usage of fossil fuels which are depleting fast and the price quotient is increasing by the minute. Again this means a financial loss to the country.
    4. The lack of a standby facility or the pace of restoration. This will affect India's image greatly since the power and time taken to tackle a crisis counts in the international arena.
    5. The outage for more than 48hrs means total blackout during night which also increases the threat of crime ratio. Our capital is already much notorious regarding the crime rate.
    6. The states do not abide the power quotas which is a sort of electricity robbery.
    From the situation which has been faced, we need to take steps to avert such crisis in future. One of the steps should be to develop an alternate source of Clean and Green Electricity.
    The Gram Vikas initiative taken by My Lord, Anirudhha is one step to face these kind of crisis. If the villages are made self-sufficient in means of food, shelter, clothing, water and electricity then we can truly say “India Shining”.
    Hari om.

  17. Hari Om Samir Dada, Indeed the power supply imbalance is just another aspect of the growing divide between urban and rural India. As Bapu is emphasising through AIGV, the development of Rural India is just as important as the urban. Unfortunately the growth in these sectors have been very imbalanced, the lure of the city, pulls in the people from villages, which is already overpopulated, and hence has little to offer to the newcomers, but exploitation as cheap labour. I believe it is the duty of the government to emphasise and pay attention to developing rural India, and support its growth. It is indeed unfair that people in cities often have excess resources, while the poor farmers commit suicides over paltry debt amounts like Rs.5000. We need to respect our farmers and village folk, and look into their well being too.

  18. Hari Om Dada!

    Really a thought provoking article! Here in cities we see growing incidences of power being wasted and here in rural areas, people have to bear the brunt of load-shedding, sometimes even for more than 12 hrs. a day! What a paradox in a country which aspires to become a superpower!!!

    Here, as many in the above comments have said, we also must try to develop non-conventional energy sources and bring them within the reach of common people. But, what I feel more than that, we Indians should work on correcting our ill-habits and ill-practices and always should keep in mind that a world exists beyond the glitterati of posh cities with posh malls and 5-star hotels.

  19. Hari Om and Shri Ram for the post. Even this grid failure was reported in international press and appeared on first page here. India might have grown in leaps and bounds on many fronts and it's worth commending but the real test is how strong our infrastructure is. You have very well pointed out the focus on Urbanism but it's really the rural which we have to focus on. No wonder our Sadguru has taken this rural development aspect in His Ram Rajya vision.

    Shree Ram for timely and enlightening article.

    Sandeepsinh Mahajan

  20. This is high time to think about this. We can't take it so casually.

    Dada, you have done very good analysis of situation. We hope and pray to P. P. Bapu that situation will come under control very soon.

  21. This information is really eye opener for me. This recent power outage seems to be biggest disaster in India. We definitely need to achieve a stage of “Continuous power supply” to become super power. When I heard this power outage news for 1st time I was wondering with multiple questions in my mind:
    – Why there is no backup system for such a critical function?
    – why there is no measurement system to ensure state abide power quotas allocated to them?
    – Will this also negatively impact India's image to world & thereby foreign investment?

    Now that we have already faced the disaster, power department should take this as a learning lesson. They should prepare a proper business continuity plan (BCP) to ensure this does not repeat.

  22. Hari Om Dada

    Very true and aptly pin-pointed our pain areas. We are already having deficit in our energy requirement and we can see people leaving at rural side facing load shedding which runs for hours. Where as, there is completely opposite picture in metros like Mumbai where we can see un-cut power supply in Malls and advertisement hoarding's lightening up whole night.

    Bapu has already envisaged the future and made us to think about “Sources of alternate Energy”.

    In Interior locations like Vidarbha, people still receive water by Tanker even in rainy season. Due to scarce rainfall this year in Mumbai, we are also facing water cut. And to top it all, to fulfill Mumbai's water requirement, Dam's height is being increased day by day. This again as you said will lead to social unrest

    Also to feed the increasing population in the urban areas, our villages especially should be self-sufficient in all respects. And I am definitely sure our initiative of “GramVikas” is the only solution for this in future !!!

    Hari Om

  23. आज जे भारतातील जनतेला दिवसेंदिवस झपाट्याने वाढत असलेल्या महागाईला तोंड द्यावे लागते आहे. ह्याचे एक अप्रत्यक्ष कारण म्हणजे श्रम करणारा वर्ग कमी झाल्यामुळे असे मला वाटतंय. ग्रामीण आणि शहरी भागात असलेल्या तफावती मुळे जो तो शहराकडे जातो आणि तिथे काम करतो त्यामुळे शेती कडे दुर्लक्ष झाल्याप्रमाणे आहे.
    तसेच शहरांमध्येही हीच परिस्थिती आहे. मजूर वर्ग कमी झालाय. मजुरीसाठी दुप्पट तिप्पट जास्त पैसे मोजूनदेखील मजूर मिळेनासे झालेत. परिणामी, प्रत्येक क्षेत्रामध्ये जास्त पैसे मोजावे लागतात. तसेच शेती कडेही दुर्लक्ष झाल्यामुळे प्रत्येकाला अन्न, वस्त्र ह्या मुलभूत गरजा पुरवण्यासाठी जास्त पैसे मोजावे लागत आहेत.
    त्यात रुपयाचे झालेल्या अवमूल्यनामुळे देशातील अर्थव्यवस्था स्थिर ठेवण्यासाठी सरकारला कर वाढवावे लागत आहेत आणि परिणामी महागाई वाढत जाते.

  24. Hari Om Dada,
    Read your article. Very Apt and precise information. Power grid failure in technical language is known as ' Cascade Tripping '. Every technology has its merits and demerits. It depends upon the experts/technocrats how they deal with! I remember, somewhere in 90's, such crisis situation arose in entire United States. The same crisis was tackled in just 90 mints. When geographically United States is far more double in size than India, took less than 100 mints to restore the energy crisis and India was struggling for more than 48hrs?? What will be the impression of India in international market? Foreign industries may think twice before investing in India when a basic requirement of any industry, i.e. electricity has no uninterrupted supply. I am of the view that such grid failure is shameful and responsible officials should be punished. thank you for sharing such a nice article. Hari Om.

  25. Hari Om Dada,

    thanks for this eye opener article which highlights one of the root causes of the rural to urban migration of people. a lot of people in Maharashtra are against these proliferation of people from other states into metros like Mumbai Pune etc, but they fail to see these glaring issues which makes these people move away from their homes. Its very surprising that we tend to spend billions in other technological advancements but we cant control or monitor such a basic thing. Indeed if India dreams of being a superpower we have to start taking aggressive steps towards it in all areas like power, infrastructure, rural development,etc.
    Shree Ram
    Anant G

  26. Hari om dada, facing such bad situation all must show interest in unconventional use of energy sources. So that use of ELECTRICITY will be limited and restricted to the Needs. Many institutions are working on same aspect but it must now go for grass route level. Technology must be transferred from LAB to LAND so that all people will be benefited with the scientist's efforts.

  27. Indeed Samir Dada ! It has become now the need of the hour to make the effective and optimum utilisation of the power supply we recieve

    Moreover, time has come now to identify and implement various non-conventional sources of energy viz. Solar Energy, Wind mill or energy extracted from bagasse etc. The rural areas needs to be more educated on these non-conventional energy sources, which could be generated locally to avoid any power disruptions

    With this atleast we could help rural areas to have continious power supply which will help them even in their agricultural works

    Hari om

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