New Indian govt fights power cuts in Delhi, biggest state

NEW DELHI Sat May 31, 2014 2:16am EDT

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NEW DELHI May 31 (Reuters) - India's new energy minister pulled an all-night work session to tackle power cuts caused by a dust storm in New Delhi on Friday and provide more electricity to the country's largest state that is suffering outages in sweltering summer heat.

The power crunch is a test of whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in power for less than a week, can live up to the reputation for reliable services he built during more than a decade as chief minister of Gujarat.

Uttar Pradesh, where one in six Indians live, has been hit by blackouts of up to 12 hours a day as temperatures soared and were expected to reach 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) in the state capital of Lucknow on Saturday.

Piyush Goyal, minister of state for power, coal, and new and renewable energy, said in a series of overnight tweets that he would ensure that a request from Uttar Pradesh for an extra 325 megawatts of power would be met by Saturday morning.

Peak demand for power in Uttar Pradesh is around 12,700 MW, around 2,000 MW in excess of supply that has been available until now due to power station shutdowns and delays in buying coal stocks, the government says.

Goyal also said action was being taken to address power disruptions in the capital. Friday's sudden dust storm caused widespread damage, halted the city's metro and, according to news reports, killed at least nine people.

"We will do an all-nighter to monitor the situation & expedite restoration work. Ours is a 24x7 government," he wrote in a tweet. (Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Matt Driskill)

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