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600 Million without Power as India Suffers Major Blackout

Common Dreams staff

The second blackout in two days has left more than 600 million people -- about half of India’s population of 1.2 billion -- without power across the Indian subcontinent.

The outage -- one of the world's biggest-ever blackouts -- stopped hundreds of trains in their tracks, darkened traffic lights, shuttered the Delhi Metro and left everyone from the police to water utilities to private businesses and citizens without electricity, according to the New York Times.

The failure happened without warning just after 1:00 pm there, according to officials at the Uttar Pradesh Power Corp. On Monday, a similar failure left 300 million without power in northern regions of the country

"Initial reports are saying that [electric] trains have stopped, [as well] as the Delhi Metro," reported Nilanjan Chowhdhury, an Al Jazeera producer in New Delhi. Traffic lights were also reported to not be operational in the capital.

"The reason is the same [as for Monday's outage]: apparently there was overloading of the grid, and this has happened at a location about 100km from Delhi, in Agra."

India's demand for electricity has soared along with its economy in recent years, notes a report by the Associated Press, "but utilities have been unable to meet the growing needs." India's Central Electricity Authority reported power deficits of more than 8 percent in recent months.

The AP continues: "The power deficit was worsened by a weak monsoon that lowered hydroelectric generation and kept temperatures higher, further increasing electricity usage as people seek to cool off.

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

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