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The collapse of three of India’s five electricity grids on Tuesday left more than half the country’s 1.2 billion population without power.
It was the second day of blackouts, following the that left more than 300 million people without electricity Monday. The government blamed a spike in power demand that tripped an already stretched transmission system.
The two blackouts left commuters stranded on roads and train lines and forced hospitals to turn to generators to keep operations going. The size of the outages were stunning even for Indians, who are long used to power blackouts. By Wednesday, most of the but according to analysts the outage could
Click ahead to see images from India's power blackout.
By Rajeshni Naidu-GhelaniPosted August 1, 2012
Millions of commuters were stranded across train stations in India as service came to a standstill.
Train stations in Kolkata were swamped with people trying to get home after government offices and schools closed early in the city of 5 million. More than 300 trains were stuck on the tracks, halting rail services in up to 10 states, according to local media reports.
Pictured: Students walk on the tracks as passengers wait near the platform of Sealdah train station in Kolkata.
Huge traffic jams were seen in major cities across northern India after traffic signals stopped functioning.
A creaky road and rail network have weighed heavily on India's efforts to industrialize. The government recently scaled back a target to pump $1 trillion into infrastructure over the next five years as it deals with the country’s slowest economic growth in nine years.
Pictured: Traffic jam near Karkadi Mor in East Delhi.
The blackout spread east to cities such as Kolkata.
With millions of train passengers stranded on the tracks, railway operators dispatched several diesel locomotives to pull stranded trains from lines to main stations so that commuters could get access to food and water.
Pictured: Passengers and vendors wait on the platform of Sealdah train station for the resumption of services in Kolkata.
To shield themselves from frequent power outages, many Indians rely on diesel generators as a back-up source.
In fact, entire industries and neighborhoods run on diesel power. In Lucknow, for example, private hospital Vivekananda Polyclinic and Institute of Medical Sciences used three generators to keep dialysis machines running and air-conditioning on in the wards, according to media reports.
Pictured: A worker fills containers with fuel for generators in Siliguri, West Bengal.
On the first day, the outages snarled traffic on India’s already congested roads.
As Asia’s third-largest economy, India suffers a peak-hour power deficit of about 10 percent — impacting its economic growth. India was forced to buy extra power from the tiny Kingdom of Bhutan on Monday to help recover from the first blackout.
Pictured: A traffic policeman directs traffic at an intersection in New Delhi.
The blackouts are the latest blow to India’s economy, which is grappling with a combination of slowing growth, a weak currency, inflation at above 7 percent and a poor monsoon season that is expected to drive up food prices.
While the direct impact of the power outages on businesses is not yet known, business lobby groups like the Confederation of Indian Industry estimate losses for local businesses to be in the tens of millions of dollars.
Pictured: Portable power generators provide power to souvenir shops along Janpath Market, a popular tourist shopping area, in New Delhi.
The power failure was triggered by energy-hungry states drawing power beyond their allocated limits, according to Indian government officials.
The government has set a target of $400 billion in private and public investment over the next five years to overhaul the country’s ailing power system and boost capacity, but its track record has been dismal.
India has the world's fifth-largest coal reserves and relies on it for two-thirds of its power generation. But disputes over land and environmental clearances and failure to invest in new mines and technology have held back coal output as demand rises.
Pictured: Pedestrians walk on a street under electric wires in the old quarters of New Delhi.
With this summer in north India being the hottest in 33 years, authorities made restoring services to hospitals and transportation systems a priority.
Blackouts lasting up to eight hours a day are common in much of India and have sparked angry protests. Power blackouts have also impacted water supplies, with many tube wells unable to pump water. There have been reports in recent weeks of scuffles breaking out as residents surrounded trucks delivering water around New Delhi.
Pictured: Employees of the revenue office work with the help of candles in Siliguri, West Bengal.