1 August 2012 by Kavitha Srinivasa
Life came to a grinding halt when electric grids in northern, eastern and northeastern India failed miserably, impacting the lives of people in 20 out of 29 states. This blackout came in quick succession, soon after a reported number of 370 million people were rendered powerless when a northern grid snapped on July 30.
The onus is on the new power minister Veerappa Moily to gain public confidence. Putting politics aside, a powerless situation meant a loss of several hundred million dollars for the industrial landscape, while in half of the country the common man's life came to a standstill as transport networks went out of gear.
Premier IT-ITes destinations like Bangalore and Hyderabad, which are in south India, were unaffected. In fact those of us living in south India have fortunately been spared. But then many of our extended family members went through a harrowing time at the train stations. These were senior citizens whose frail health took the better of them. They slipped into an abyss of helplessness, as the wait seemed never ending. Of course, there was an outbreak of kindness, as other stranded passengers stepped in to offer succor. Such grim situations give people a chance to grieve, pray and collectively share their woes. Even those with wads of cash in hand expressed solidarity.
Moving beyond family concerns, the media has been publishing heart-rendering images of the powerless situation, whether it's the sinuous traffic jams or children studying in flickering candle light. Amidst all chaos, was an image of a barber in Kolkata trying to get his act together, at the most, this can be described as a cut of a different kind.
On several occasions, power shortage situations have hit the headlines. This time it went out of control as it made international news.
The need of the hour is power crisis management, as India is the world's sixth-largest consumer of electricity. Immediate and long term measures are required for power generation and distribution, as the year has not been too good for the power sector. This year, the shortfall in the annual monsoon showers has resulted in a low hydroelectric generation. With a deficit in rainfall, we became more dependent on electricity-driven devices like air conditioners to keep us cool.
The government, nodal agencies and individuals should take the Blackout seriously and harness other forms of power sources.
In short, we need to look at sustainable, renewable energy solutions to ensure smooth functioning when conventional forms of energy fail. Solar is an immediate viable option, considering India is blessed with 300 sunny days in a year. Earlier in the year, there were reports about Solar Energy Corporation's plan of putting up a 1,000-MW solar park in the country. Many states have planned to establish large solar energy parks. Already Gujarat has set an example.
While there are several innovative ways of using solar in homes and offices, think tanks can covert industrial waste into energy. Let's not forget rural India, which has many opportunities worth tapping. We can look at end-to-end Smart Irrigation methods that use renewable energy in rural India. Entrepreneurial talent should be encouraged to light up places in a cost effective manner, may be we can consider solutions like pedal power for rural folk.
Alternate electricity infrastructure requires a holistic approach. Moving beyond basics to the frills, we need to promote holiday concepts like eco tourism more aggressively, considering centrally posh air conditioned places of stay consume too much electricity.
While these solutions need a proper marketing channel with incentive measures as a booster, July 31 will remain a poignant reminder of a catastrophe, quite like 2004's December 26, when the killer tidal wave called tsunami wrecked households in coastal India within minutes.
Electricity is the lifeline of a society, without it, life becomes meaningless.
Posted By: Kavitha Srinivasa @ 01 August 2012 06:47 PM General
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