New Delhi/Chandigarh/Jaipur/Lucknow, July 23 (IANS) As the power crisis Tuesday enveloped 19 states in India, the central government blamed the collapse on the second straight day to overdrawing of electricity by some states, an explanation that was repudiated by the states named.
Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, who was Tuesday named home minister, blamed the massive power failure that encompassed not just the north but also the east and northeast of the country on the overdrawing of power by states like Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan and said efforts were on to fetch electricity from other regions.
"This morning only, I was told (by officials) that about 3,000 MW extra power has been over drawn from the Eastern Grid. We have given the direction to either stop it (overdraw) or take action against them," Shinde said to queries about the reasons for the grids failure.
In a first of sorts, three grids - the Northern, Eastern and North Eastern - collapsed simultaneously, leaving more than half of the country's 1.2 billion people powerless.
Shinde's comments saw Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh rejecting the blame while Haryana was on the defensive.
The Punjab government described as "absurd, factually baseless and grossly misleading", the central government's claim that the grid failure at the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) Monday and Tuesday was due to overdrafts by the state.
"It is absolutely incorrect and misleading to blame the failure on Punjab, whose overdraft is many times lower than that of other states," a spokesman of the chief minister's office said in Chandigarh.
Releasing figures of the overdraft of power taken by Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh at the point of the grid failure, the Punjab government spokesman said that these "clearly showed that Punjab's usage on overdrafts had been by far the lowest among the these states".
Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who was on the defensive for gross overdraft by state leading to the grid failure, said that "the present power crisis was not only of Haryana, but of the entire country".
"The problem has aggravated due to a snag in the northern grid. Although the power generation has been increased during the last few years, the demand has also increased."
The Rajasthan government, too, dismissed the charge of overdrawing power.
"We are overdrawing much below our permissible limit," state Energy Minister Jitendra Singh said but did not give any figures.
Power officials in Uttar Pradesh also denied any blame.
While most officials claimed that it was Rajasthan that was overdrawing about 1,000 MW Tuesday when the grid suddenly collapsed, Principal Secretary (Energy) and Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (UPPCL) chairman Anil Kumar Gupta told IANS that records ruled out the state as the villain.
"This allegation, if at all being levelled by someone, is misplaced as when the Northern and Eastern Grid collapsed Tuesday, the state was only drawing 40 MW from the grid," he said, adding "machines never lied and so my statement based on facts could be checked by who so ever felt like".
Officials at Shakti Bhawan, the power headquarters, blamed the Northern Regional Load Despatch Centre (NRLDC), saying that in case, certain states were overdrawing, the NRLDC had the "master control" to switch off "either that particular section or even the entire state".
"If they had witnessed such an overdraw, why did they not act," questioned a senior power official.