Power outage could've been sabotage: Minister Nitin Raut

The ongoing debate over Monday's power failure in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai took a new twist after Energy Minister Nitin Raut alleged that the possibility of sabotage or a cyber attack could not be ruled out.The inquiry panel, which is yet to be constituted, will look into this aspect and strict action will be taken against guilty personnel. Raut said the committee would also investigate the possibility of a cyber attack which may have caused the major grid collapse, resulting in the outage on October 12.

The state government was attacked by the opposition and consumer organisations, as most of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region suffered an unprecedented blackout of more than 12 hours.

‘‘Monday’s power failure in India’s financial capital Mumbai is certainly a matter of serious concern. There was an outage in 2011 also. An inquiry committee was appointed and in its report it had suggested some measures to prevent such incidents in future. The committee’s report will be revisited, to check whether or not its recommendations were implemented. It will also be checked whether the action-taken report was subsequently released,’’ said Raut.

Further, he said, the committee would look into the technical aspects, probe the functioning of power safety devices and a technical audit of these measures would be conducted. ‘‘A committee will soon be formed and will submit its report at the earliest,’’ he noted.

As reported by The Free Press Journal, the committee appointed by the Central Electricity Authority is currently in Mumbai to inquire into Monday’s power failure.

Independent Power Producers Association of India Director General Harry Dhaul told The Free Press Journal, ‘’We have been conducting various exercises with the PowerGrid Corporation and the Government of India concerned agencies, including the National Critical Infrastrucrure Protection Centre, in the context of cyber security for the power sector. Our results are showing that greater attention needs to be paid in the area of cyber security and cyber hygiene in the power sector. We are sure that the government has already started taking necessary steps using the latest technology, including drone surveys to increase transmission line surveillance, besides building protection against cyber attacks.’’

Meanwhile, Raut blamed the BJP for politicising the power failure issue.Without naming the party, he claimed that some forces were maligning the state energy department. "There are sporadic incidents of power outages in the state, the country and the world due to technical reasons. Bhopal also had no electricity for six hours on October 11, the day before Mumbai. But why was the BJP silent then? Isn't the Bhopal incident a failure of the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh?” he asked.

BJP legislator Ashish Shelar has urged Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to constitute an inquiry to find out who is discrediting the state power sector.

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