A massive power outage caused by grid failure disrupted normal life in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) and beyond on Monday, bringing to a standstill for a few hours at mid-morning several essential services, including suburban trains ferrying essential services workers, online exams and water supply.
While power supply in many parts was restored within two hours, in some parts of suburban Mumbai and Thane, supply had not been restored late into the evening. The last time Mumbai experienced such a long outage was in 2018.
Forty patients were shifted from Apex Hospital in Mulund after the generator caught fire due to overheating. The fire was extinguished at 6.12 pm. Patients were shifted to Fortis Hospital, Mulund Covid jumbo facility and Astha Hospital.
While shifting, 82-year-old Pandurang Kulkarni, who was critical and suffering from Covid-19, died on his way to another hospital. Sources said another patient, a woman, remains in a critical condition.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray ordered an inquiry into the grid failure. Thackeray also held a meeting with Energy Minister Nitin Raut, senior government and energy officials on Monday evening. The probe will look into technical faults behind the outage in Mumbai and those responsible for it, a statement from the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) said.
The outage began at 10.05 am. Power disruptions were reported from all parts of the Island city and its suburbs, as well as from Thane, Panvel, Dombivili and Kalyan, and even as far away as Lonavala.
Suburban train services were hit immediately, with commuters stranded in trains in between stations. As the trains are open only for essential services workers because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the power cut had a domino effect on essential services as staff failed to turn up for work on time. A statement from Central Railway (CR) said train services were restored at 12:26 pm. Western Railway (WR) said train services resumed from 12:20 pm.
The outage, at least two hours in many places but stretching to as long as five, six and even eight hours in others, caused disruptions in water supply in areas such as Andheri (East and West), Vile Parle (East and West), Oshiwara and Jogeshwari.
The ongoing final-year online exams in Mumbai colleges had to be put off to another day, and hearings at the Bombay High Court and lower courts resumed after two hours. Equipped with solid back-ups, the airport and stock exchange were unaffected.
Hospitals, with ICUs filled with Covid-19 patients, switched to generators immediately. In preparation for a potentially long wait for power to be restored, Mumbai municipal commissioner I S Chahal asked all hospitals to arrange for sufficient supply of diesel for at least eight hours.
A statement from CMO said the power supply to Mumbai was cut off at around 10 am due to breakdown of the power line. However, the power supply was restored, in major parts, within three and a half hours on “a war-footing”, it said. Power supply to hospitals and railways was restored on priority.
“An investigation should be carried out to see whether the power outage was unexpected or expected or whether there was any negligence in it,” said Thackeray, instructing officials to repair the power lines on a war-footing.
Thackeray further asked the officials to ensure that such incidents did not recur. “Though there is no possibility of such incidents happening in a series, we have to be more vigilant in the future and make further improvements in the system if necessary,” said the Chief Minister, asking the officials to be alert considering the rise in demand for electricity with a forecast of heavy rain over the next four days.
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