Having a stable power supply is something that I have always taken for granted in Australia. But not so in India, where dealing with load shedding and power cuts is part of daily life. So much so that most hospitals, large apartment complexes and hotels have alternate power supply and backup generators to deal with the inconvenience.
But last week was somewhat different, as India experienced the world’s largest power cut, far surpassing any regular scheduled cuts. A grid failure of the north, eastern and north eastern grids took out the nation’s capital, New Delhi and affected over 600 million people. If you consider the fact that is almost twice the entire population of the USA, one gets a sense of the sheer scale of the impact. Trains were left stranded on the tracks, metros were closed and traffic chaos ensued. One Wall Street Journal reporter wrote this satirical take on the issue – 1.2 Billion Indians hit by leadership outage, highlighting the lack of national leadership at a time of crisis.
The Western Ghats in India tell a fascinating tale of competing interests and agendas. Recently declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO after a persistent 10-year campaign by the Indian Government, the Ghats have been the subject of a number of different agendas, pursued by conservationists, state and central government officials, UN officials, Indian and international scientists, forest-dweller activists and development and mining advocates alike.