No less than 65 lakh consumers of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) were affected by the tripping of the network passing through Maharashtra State Electricity Transmission Company Ltd (MSETCL)’s Kalwa substation. Of the 2,800 MW supplied to the MMR, 1000MW passes through this section.The outage began around 10am (see graphic above).
Mumbai needs to be better prepared with a contingency plan to deal with a mega blackout. The islanding system, which held the city in good stead under such conditions, needs to be upgraded. As part of disaster management planning, it is critical for all vital installations and essential services in the metropolitan region to remain operational even in the event of an outage.
Trains came to a halt, traffic signals stopped and hospital procedures were called off. Water supply and internet connectivity were affected. Exams were also postponed and courts forced to call off hearings. Power supply was yet to resume in many suburbs till late. Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has announced an inquiry.
Mega outage stops trains, cranes and automobiles in their tracks
The outage on Monday halted essential services in the city like water supply, public transport and net connectivity.
BMC’s Bhandup water complex where supply is treated before it enters the city’s distribution system was among installations affected. As a result, water pressure was low in several areas including Vile Parle East and Andheri East. It is expected to be restored by Tuesday afternoon. In Navi Mumbai, supply was affected in Koparkhairane, Ghansoli, Ulve, Airoli, Uran and Nerul.
Suburban train services too were affected for almost two hours beginning 10am. A Western Railway spokesperson said, “Train services were restored at 12.20pm. Long distance services were disrupted too.” Harbour line services resumed at 10.55am and on main line by 12.25pm.
RPF personnel helped passengers alight from stranded trains. At Churchgate, Matunga and Thane, commuters were walking along the tracks to reach their destinations.
Road traffic was crippled as traffic signals went on the blink. There are around 650 traffic signals in the city, of which 90% stopped functioning, forcing traffic police to manually direct motorists. “South-bound traffic is anyway heavy on Monday morning. The blank signals made it tougher,” said an officer.
Mumbai airport was one of the few places unaffected by the outage. Those in flight operations switched on the UPS .
Tertiary hospitals too did not face operational hitches due to emergency power backup. However, smaller hospitals and nursing homes put routine surgeries on hold. At KEM Hospital and JJ Hospitals, the outage lasted four hours. Mayor Kishori Pednekar visited the Covid care centre at BKC to ensure all was well. BMC commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal directed diesel to be provided to hospitals and Covid care centres. In Thane, power supply to Global Covid hospital at Saket and a field hospital in Mumbra was interrupted briefly.
Schools had to cancel online classes and exams. Bombay Scottish School in Mahim had semester exams scheduled for class VIII to X but allowed students to resume writing after power resumed.
Bombay High Court had to put on hold its virtual court proceedings and physical hearings too. Both resumed once power was restored around 12:30pm. At the sessions court, too, matters were adjourned. Murder convict, Chhota Rajan, lodged in New Delhi’s Tihar jail, could not be produced over video conferencing facility. He was finally produced at 12.35 pm for the last of his three cases.
For most, the work from home module was disrupted as phone charge petered out, and internet and WiFi stopped. Surprisingly, Palghar in the Vasai-Virar region that faces weekly power cuts in addition to frequent load shedding was spared the power cut.