M A I N   N E W S

Fog throws life out of gear in region
Grid collapse leads to blackout
Umesh Dewan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 2
Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and parts of Jammu and Kashmir reeled under a power crisis as 35 lines of the northern grid tripped around 3 am following a technical glitch in the transmission lines triggered by fog and cold conditions.

In Punjab, it was a complete blackout and the power production remained suspended for several hours.

“Due to intense fog conditions in North India, high-tension lines of the northern grid tripped at 3.02 am today, leading to major power interruption in several states, including Punjab,” said a Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) spokesman.

The power officials said they managed to resume the partial supply by morning. Board officials claimed that power supply in state was back to normal at 7 pm.

According to the PSEB, hydel power generation in Punjab was restored at 10.30 am. Thermal power supply from Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant, Bhatinda, was restored at 11.40 am, while the supply from Guru Hargobind Thermal Power Plant, Lehra Mohabat, was resumed at 1 pm. The supply from Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant, Ropar, was restored at 1.15 pm.

The power generation from Ranjit Sagar Dam Hydro Electric Project was normalised at 10.30 am, whereas hydel projects at Anandpur Sahib and Mukerian were operational by 10.55 am and 12 noon, respectively.

The officials claimed that all thermal units were back on bar by 7 pm. PSEB officials said as the thermal and hydel plants got operational, the power generation and its subsequent distribution was back on track.

“Immediately after the grid failure, instructions were issued to the entire PSEB staff to restore the power supply as early as possible. Board officials immediately started the restoration process and partial system restoration was made at 7.30 am today,” PSEB chairman, HS Brar, told The Tribune.

PSEB member generation, GS Sra, said the power supply to consumers in Punjab was restored in a phased manner. “One by one, the units in Bathinda, Ropar and Lehra Mohabat were made operational. Now, the supply from 132/220-KV lines has also been normalized,” he informed.

The exact location where the fault occurred is being investigated by Northern Regional Load Despatch Centre, he added. 







Air, rail services go haywire
Akhila Singh
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 2
Thousands of people across North India were left stranded for hours at railway stations and airports as dense fog hindered movement of trains and flights since the wee hours today. A major power failure and three train accidents added to the woes of train passengers, while a malfunctioning equipment at the Delhi airport magnified the problem for air-travellers.

In all, 70 outgoing and incoming domestic flights were either delayed, rescheduled or cancelled. Another 18 incoming international flights were diverted to airports in Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Mumbai. At these airports, passengers were not allowed to disembark. It was only after eight hours that the snag was corrected at the Delhi airport and the diverted flights started landing back in the national capital.

Rohit Khanna, who was on a Royal Jordanian Oman-Delhi flight, said, “The plane was diverted to Jaipur around 4 am and the passengers were not allowed to use the lounge/ waiting area at the airport.” Khanna said over the phone that the Jaipur airport was not equipped to even offer water or food to thousands of passengers sitting in the parked aircraft.

Sources said the Jaipur airport did not have space to accommodate so many people. The first flight that was diverted to Jaipur was from a middle-eastern country. All passengers on board that aircraft were allowed to get off, while the passengers on other flights were asked to sit on board.

The malfunction in the automated landing system at the Delhi airport meant flights could not take off or land as it was impossible for pilots to operate on visual sighting when dense fog had reduced visibility to a mere 50 m. Several passengers, who had come from nearby cities to board flights, could be seen sitting in taxis or huddled around tea/coffee kiosks in the biting cold.

The plight of railway passengers across North India was pitiable. All long-distance train running across Punjab and Haryana came to a grinding halt in the dead of the night as the Powergrid collapsed at 3 am. Since most trains run on electric locomotives, the stoppage was sudden and usually in the middle of nowhere. Kuldeep Arora, a passenger on board a train said there was no information and being removed from habitation, not even a cup of tea was available at that place.

The Railways tried to press in diesel locomotives that were used to “tow” a few of the trains to the nearest railway stations. Restoration of partial power supply started at 7.30 am when supply from two hydropower stations was diverted to the grid. More than 150 trains were affected. Complete normalcy would be restored only by tomorrow, sources said.

Among the key trains to be held up due to the grid failure were the Jammu-Rajdhani Express, the Himachal Express and the Kalka mail. Around 35 trains were rescheduled. These included Rajdhanis destined for Howrah, Patna, Mumbai and Bhubneshwar, besides the Goa Express and the Shan-e-Punjab. The Sampark Kranti series of trains to Ranchi, Bangalore and Goa were also on the rescheduled list.

Among the trains running late were the Rajdhani Express coming from Guwahati and Sealdah. The Kalka Mail coming from Howrah was late by two hours.

The railway information system collapsed as thousands of passengers and relatives thronged the stations for information. The phone lines at the enquiry counters were clogged while the automated enquiry system (telephone number 139) collapsed.

Agitated train passengers said it was high time the Railways modernised itself and addressed the needs of the passengers.

Anand Sharma, whose family was coming from Chandigarh, said, “My family is on board the Kalka Shatabdi that had to arrive at the station and was delayed by two hours. There is no one here to give me information.”



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