600 million in dark over massive Indian power outages

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.

Power in rural Punjab

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“Exploring Bangalore” Series: to walk, cycle or drive?

To walk, cycle or drive? Unfortunately, that is not a difficult question to answer here in India, but it does provide a good starting point for my “Exploring Bangalore” Series, where I will share my discoveries as I slowly come to know the city.

When I reach a new city I love to explore by hitting the streets and wandering past cafes, markets, parks and old buildings.

Unfortunately, to do so in India can sometimes mean taking your life into your own hands. For the most part, the roads are congested, the air polluted and the footpaths are often broken, covered in street stalls and parked motorcycles or even non-existent. And of course the cows are there just as an added challenge! There are a lot of fascinating sites to see, the stressful part is just travelling between them!

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Indian innovation – turning plastic waste into roads

As a follow up to my “Living Green in India” Series post, Waste not, want not, I came across this unusual solution.

Plastic Roads Offer Greener Way to Travel in India – NYTimes.com

Rather than viewing plastic products, such as plastic bags and food packaging, as waste, one Bangalore company uses it as a raw material in roads to create polymerised bitumen. This adds a few years of life to the road and reduces the amount of plastic waste sent to landfill.

How many other so-called “waste products” could we turn into material for innovative products?

Handmade solar car

An unusual article in The Hindu newspaper caught my eye this morning. This solar vehicle was designed and built by a local Bangalore businessman.

Inspired by the design of auto-rickshaws, it was handmade from local materials, many sourced from scrap metal yards. It cost about AUD$1800 to build and is soon to be driven on a 2000km road trip from Bangalore to New Delhi, as a show of support for anti-corruption activist, Anna Hazare. The vehicle’s maximum daily range is 100km, travelling on battery backup, and the maximum speed is 30km/h.

Who would fancy taking it out for a spin?

Solar car in Bangalore