Mumbai hit by blackouts after power station snag

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Power cuts hit large areas of Indian financial capital Mumbai on Tuesday following a technical glitch at an electricity generation unit, but backup generators at banks and brokerages ensured that financial business was largely unaffected.

Tata Power said the cuts, which began at 9.45 am, were caused by a technical fault at one of its units that forced it to switch off power to some areas of the city, including business districts.

Overloading of the state transmission network prevented local electricity distribution companies from importing extra power available elsewhere in India into Mumbai, Tata said.

The National and Bombay Stock Exchanges said the outages had not impacted trading, and local banks and brokers said generators had ensured power supply was maintained during the day.

Mumbai is largely free of the outages that regularly affect much of India.

India does not generate enough electricity to meet rapidly rising demand. Furthermore, a severe shortage of coal, which fuels two-thirds of its energy needs, has raised fears of more widespread blackouts.

"Dark office in Mumbai. Lights out in the whole area. The coal crisis is beginning to literally show its dark side. A threat to the India story," tweeted industrialist Anand Mahindra, chairman and managing director of Mahindra Group.

According to data released last week, half of India's thermal power stations have less than a week's supply of coal on hand, the lowest level since 620 million people in 22 states were hit by one of the world's worst blackouts in mid-2012.

Any grid collapse would cast doubts on the crisis management skills of the new government led by prime minister Narendra Modi, one of whose achievements as chief minister of Gujarat was ensuring 24-hour power supply in the state.

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