Citizens' Issues
Public Interest Exclusive
Power grid collapse: What could have prevented the disaster

If the load despatch centres had isolated the states which overdrew power, from the grid, this mess would not have happened. It is amazing that this was not done
The terrible and torturous Tuesday that some 700 million people experienced, apart from the lakhs of crores of rupees that the nation lost in industrial production, is not one of its kind. It may sound ominous, but others are likely to follow if checks and measures are strictly not enforced.
It is no laughing matter for the new kid on the block in the power ministry, Sushil Kumar Shinde, to say to say that it took USA four days to overcome the power outage as against the eight hours that India took to restore power supply.
As more detailed information is now emerging from the mess as a result of the grid collapse, it is apparent that both Northern Regional Local Despatch Centre and the State Load Despatch Centres were fully aware that three states—UP, Punjab and Haryana—were, in fact, indulging in massive overdrawing of power. They simply passed the buck by filing petitions with the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) instead of preventing the collapse by isolating the concerned states in the system.
On the political front, BSP and BJP walked out of the Assembly in Lucknow over the power crisis; chief minister Akilesh Yadav slammed the UPA government at the Centre for denying coal linkage to state’s power plants and he attacked the Congress party for not being supportive.
But, according to a senior official in the power ministry, the states were expected to follow the grid discipline by not overdrawing power and also set up automatic demand management schemes including UFRs—Under Frequency Relays. The states simply did not comply with this essential requirement for smooth running of the system. Now a time frame should be set for this imperative necessity and no excuses should be accepted.
The control rooms of these load despatch centres were fully aware that simultaneous overdrawing would lead to the grid collapse, but they failed to isolate the states from the grid, which is why it collapsed. Why was this issue not taken up when they had pointed out this anomaly earlier?

The question that would arise under these difficult circumstances is how are these centres manned? Can there be a nexus between the posted personnel and the party in power? Or that they were simply careless and assumed that ‘nothing’ would happen on such a massive scale causing the grid to collapse, as such lapses have ‘happened’ before?  It is difficult to say, but worth a serious investigation.
If and when the power ministry or the PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) decides on such a national issue and set up an independent competent authority to carry out an investigation, those who are currently holding the positions, when this collapse occurred, should be suspended till the work is complete and findings are submitted to the government.
We cannot afford to have such a national disaster again and the guilty must be punished and steps should be in place so that this does not recur.

(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce and was associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US. He can be contacted at [email protected].)


Air France to pay Rs60,000 to an elderly woman for luggage damages

The Consumer Forum said the lady must be compensated for all the troubles she faced in getting back her lost baggage with her husband forced to visit Delhi twice from Chandigarh for it  

New Delhi: Air France has been ordered by a consumer forum to pay Rs60,000 as compensation to a 73-year-old woman for misplacing her luggage during her trip from New York to Delhi and returning it to her a week later in damaged condition, reports PTI.
The New Delhi District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum ordered the payment saying that complainant Ranjit Kaur Pannu must be compensated for all the troubles she faced in getting back her lost baggage with her husband forced to visit Delhi twice from Chandigarh for it.
"Anxiety and uncertainty faced by complainant and her family can only be imagined. She had no clue about the goods which were not delivered for about a week. This is the real part of the harassment for which opposite party (Air France) alone is responsible...
"Her husband had to travel from Chandigarh to Delhi and back to collect the baggage and then had to repeat the trip all over again to show the damage to the luggage... the said torture to the family members has arisen directly from the imperfection of the services on the part of the airline," said the bench presided by CK Chaturvedi.
In her complaint, Chandigarh resident Ranjit Kaur had said she had travelled from New York to Delhi via Paris on 7 January 2004 and on arrival here she found that her luggage had not reached with her.
A week later she was told by the airline that her luggage had arrived and was asked to collect it from the customs office within three days or else, it would be auctioned off, she had said.
As she was bedridden, her husband had to travel to Delhi to collect the luggage and after getting it back, she found that it was damaged and several articles were missing from it.
The airline in its defence had contended that damages can be awarded only for the weight of the articles missing, from the luggage as per the rules of Carriage Air Act, 1972. 
The forum rejected the airline's contention saying it has "misdirected itself" by confining to the weight of the missing articles, while offering compensation to the woman.
"The question for consideration is not the weight of the articles lost and damage which is indisputably there but main question for consideration is harassment faced by the complainant and tension which she suffered when she arrived at Delhi Airport from New York and did not find her baggage," it said.
"Keeping in view the suffering of an old aged complainant and her family members and the expenses incurred by her family on repurchase of articles and travelling two times from Chandigarh to Delhi and back and other circumstances, we award a compensation of Rs50,000 to her to be paid by the opposite party. We also allow the litigation expenses of Rs10,000," it added.


Anna Hazare, others to call off fast on Friday

The end to the fast also comes in the wake of the government's steadfast attitude in not engaging with Hazare and his team

New Delhi: Team Anna on Thursday blinked in the battle of attrition with the Government by announcing plans to end the indefinite fast tomorrow evening as it pitched for an alternative to the current political system, reports PTI.
Anna Hazare's announcement on calling off the agitation demanding Lokpal Bill at 5pm tomorrow came on a day when a group of eminent personalities, including jurist VR Krishna Iyer and former Army Chief Gen VK Singh, appealed for an end to the fast as the health of Arvind Kejriwal and two others deteriorated.
"We will end the fast tomorrow at 5pm," Hazare said at the end of an address in which he enunciated the civil society's approach to forming a political alternative.
The end to the fast also comes in the wake of the government's steadfast attitude in not engaging with Hazare and his team, a year after both sides were involved in drafting a law and Parliament adopting a "sense of House" resolution on passage of Lokpal Bill.
On the earlier occasions in April and August last year, the Government appeared to have come under pressure from Hazare's protests which drew huge crowds in the capital and elsewhere.
The protest fast has been marked by low turnout, contradictory statements and levelling of wild charges against government and its functionaries. While Hazare refused to attack Pranab Mukherjee after he became President, his team members continued to level allegations against him.
Talking about providing an alternative to the current system, Hazare ruled out launching or joining a political party but asked people to come out with ideas on how the alternative can be provided.
"It is time for us to think of an alternative. We want a political alternative. But I will not launch or join a party.
People should decide who should be given tickets and how to achieve that alternative system," he said.
Questions still remained as to what Team Anna would do regarding the political alternative and whether they would launch a party themselves.
Hazare said they have to see how candidates are to be selected to ensure that honest and clean people enter Parliament.
"I agree with people that there should be a political alternative. It should be a secular alternative. But when you talk about an alternative, how we will ensure that only honest person are selected," he said.
In a similar refrain, Kejriwal said candidate selection is an issue. "We are apprehensive whether the alternative also becomes the same as the present," he said.
In their appeal to Team Anna, the eminent persons said the government has turned its back to the agitation and has also not shown political will to punish corrupt people and the opposition also does not fare well on the issue.
"Do not expect anything from this political class. We request Anna Hazare and other fasting activists to channelise their efforts in setting up a political alternative, to give a responsive, democratic and non-violent system," they said.
"Indian democracy needs a new direction. We request people who are fasting to request this historical challenge and call off their fast.
"Instead we call upon them to focus their energies on creating an alternative political force that is democratic, accountable, ethical and non-violent and capable of leading an electoral revolution to democratise and decentralise power and make the power structures of the country more accountable to people," the appeal said.



Rajkumar Singh

5 years ago

This U-turn of Team Anna reminds me of a Hindi movie, "Ghar Ghar Ki Kahani", in which a son finds faults in his father running the
family and takes up the administrative role of his father, but repents later by saying at the end that it is very easy to blame someone to become a part of the problem, but very difficult to become
a part of the solution.

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