Aug. 8 - Faced with some of the largest blackouts in Indian history, generators meant last week's power outages were far from catastrophic. Sarah Charlton reports.
Two huge power failures plunged more than half of India's population into darkness last week. But at an industrial park near New Delhi, mechanics fired up the diesel generators to keep production going. Across north India, factories, offices and shops were kept running, meaning the blackout was from catastrophic. But while off-grid power systems may be effective, they have high costs and are major pollutants. Anil Gupta of Kei Industries says regular power cuts shave off at least 5 percent annual growth. SOUNDBITE: CHAIRMAN AND MANAGING DIRECTOR OF KEI INDUSTRIES, ANIL GUPTA, SAYING (English): "It is affecting the capacity utilisation of the plant, affecting the committed deliveries to the customers either in the domestic market or in the international market, increasing the effective cost of the product or processing costs due to idling of labour and increasing the generating cost due to diesel." On a normal day, consumers on the outskirts of Delhi can expect between 2 and 6 hours without mains electricity. Experts say the recent power failures should be a wake up call to overhaul a creaky infrastructure.