BLACKOUT ON TRIPLE TRIP 

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By BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT in Calcutta
  • Published 24.10.00
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Calcutta, Oct. 24 :    Calcutta, Oct. 24:  Two days before the festival of lights, Calcutta went through one of the worst power failures in recent time, with two units of CESC's Budge Budge plant and one unit of the southern generating station in Garden Reach tripping in quick succession. Power failed around 3.35 this afternoon after two 250-mw units at Budge Budge and a 67-mw unit in Garden Reach broke down due to mechanical faults. As the shortfall shot up to a staggering 550 mw in CESC-served areas, more than half the city went without power for hours. The CESC resorted to rotational cuts, but many areas like Wood Street went without power for nearly five-hour stretches. In Lake Town, there was no power for three hours from 5 pm. Less then an hour after the three units were revived, the first unit of the Budge Budge plant broke down again around 7.40 pm. At 8 pm, the shortfall was 330 mw, a CESC official said. It was brought back in stream by 9 pm. CESC sources said this was the fourth time the Budge Budge units collapsed since May. They are expected to resume normal generation early tomorrow. Power secretary R.S. Bandopadhyay has called a meeting tomorrow to review the situation both in the city and state. All power generating agencies in the state will attend. "We will find ways to ensure uninterrupted supply of power during Kali Puja and Diwali," said Bandopadhyay. There was no power supply even to hospitals and newspaper offices for a while. Emergencies were attended to in candlelight at Calcutta Medical College and Hospital and National Medical College. CESC sources said essential services were restored by 4.30 pm. Trams were stalled at several places, including Esplanade, Kalighat, Hastings, Strand Road, Chitpur and College Street. Metro services, were, however, not hit though there was no power in three of its four feeders. "Trains were run through the fourth feeder. But there was no power in many stations and emergency lights were switched on," a Metro railway official said. At Writers' Buildings, there was no power between 3.35 and 4.10 pm. Lalbazar police headquarters went without power for nearly 40 minutes.