Imagine the thankless task of being an electrician in India when there is a power cut. This is the nightmare facing power workers in Old Delhi where tens of cables get so tangled up that it is almost impossible to tell which wire goes where. Last year 670 million Indians – nearly 10 per cent of the world’s population – were left in the dark by power outages over two days.
In old Delhi, electricity cables snake above hundreds of thousands of people who pass under them every day – strewn between buildings and over roads. They are part of life and barely register with Indians and even though the wires do pose a safety risk, they hardly get any attention. The only time locals take any extra care is during the torrential monsoons when the water-clogged streets and low lying electric wires make for a dangerous cocktail.
There are numerous blackouts following downpours as damp seeps into the cables. In the capital of New Delhi, government civil servants have been planning to take wires underground, but there have been bureaucratic delays. India is dependent on an aging coal-power monopoly for production, a system that has been branded corrupt and inefficient.