Bengal faces eight hours of blackout (Third Lead)

July 31st, 2012 - 11:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Mamata Banerjee Kolkata, July 31 (IANS) Lakhs of people across West Bengal had a harrowing time Tuesday as the state witnessed a total blackout triggered by the Eastern Grid’s sudden collapse. The outage also left thousands of train passengers stranded.

After an over eight-hour blackout, the eastern state seemed to be slowly returning to normal as train services resumed and electricity supply was restored in parts of north West Bengal.

The grid, which collapsed Tuesday afternoon, led to severe outages in all the 18 districts of the state, said Power Minister Manish Gupta.

“The Eastern Grid has collapsed…it is a big disaster. All 18 districts of the state are going to face power outages. We have started the repair work. But normalcy can’t be restored before tonight as repair work will take at least 10-12 hours,” Gupta told IANS.

According to Gupta, apart from some parts of Kolkata, there was no power anywhere in the state. “The areas of Kolkata, which are under CESC (Calcutta Electric Supply Corp), are normal. But apart from those areas, all the districts are severely affected. We have asked the CESC officials to see that at least these areas of Kolkata don’t face any power problem,” said Gupta.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee appealed to people not to panic and said more government buses will be plying across several parts of the state as the train services were disrupted.

Around 3 p.m., she also ordered all government offices to declare a holiday for the rest of the day so as to enable the employees to go home.

Train services in South Eastern Railway and Eastern railway were severely hit due to the power grid failure, bringing both long distance and local train services to a standstill.

Thousands of passengers were stranded and several long distance trains cancelled due to the grid collapse. The movement of around 157 trains under the jurisdiction of South Eastern and Eastern railway was disrupted.

Around 200 miners of the Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL) got trapped in the mines of West Bengal’s Burdwan district after the power supply got snapped. But they were later rescued by police.

“Power has been restored in almost all parts of North Bengal. The repair work is going on a war footing. Power will be restored in South Bengal as early as possible. Train services have also been restored,” Gupta said.

Train services also started returning to normal from 4 p.m.

“Train services in Chakradharpur and Ranchi Divisions have become normal from 4 p.m. and Kharagpur division has also become normal at 6 p.m. Train services in Adra Division, except Midnapore-Bishnupur section, have also become normal,” the Eastern Railway said in a release.

Train services in the Howrah division were restored around 5 p.m.

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