INDIA

Indian protests over power blackouts amid heatwave spread to New Delhi

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 June, 2014, 12:26am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 June, 2014, 4:11am
AFP

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Angry protests broke out over power blackouts as summer temperatures soared, fuelling concerns of a repeat of an electricity crisis two years ago, police said yesterday.

Residents took to the streets around midnight on Tuesday in New Delhi's northeast, attacking vehicles as frustration mounted over the power cuts, a senior officer said.

"So far we have arrested three people for damaging a bus and a gypsy (Jeep) while protesting at power cuts in the Bhajanpura area," additional commissioner of Delhi police V.V Chaudhary said.

Power failures, mainly in northern India, have been triggered by a spike in demand as temperatures soar, leaving a dilapidated electricity infrastructure unable to cope.

Riots erupted over the weekend in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, with residents storming a substation near the capital Lucknow.

The Delhi government announced emergency power-saving measures on Sunday, including cutting then massive electricity usage at the city's shopping centres, turning off street lights and ordering government offices to not use air conditioners at certain times.

Damage to some transmission lines during a recent thunderstorm in Delhi, home to more than 16 million people, has added to the problems.

A political row has erupted over the cuts, with new energy minister Piyush Goyal blaming the city's previous Congress government for outdated infrastructure, as authorities scrambled to address the problems.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his right-wing party swept to power last month on a pledge to reform the economy, including strengthening energy security and boosting development of solar power.

A power crisis two years ago blacked out half of the country and left more than 600 million people without electricity.