Delhi heatwave prompts emergency measures to conserve power

NEW DELHI Mon Jun 9, 2014 11:52am IST

Commuters travel through a mirage on a hot summer day in front of Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi June 7, 2014. REUTERS/Vijay Mathur

Commuters travel through a mirage on a hot summer day in front of Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi June 7, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Vijay Mathur

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Delhi's government is cutting power to shopping malls, switching off street lights and turning off air conditioning in government offices, after the highest temperatures in 62 years forced the city to take emergency measures to conserve power.

Power consumption in the capital surged to a record high on Saturday, overwhelming distribution systems and sparking outtages in parts of the city that angered residents left sweltering in heat as high as 47.8 degrees Celsius (118 Fahrenheit).

Damage to some transmission lines during a recent thunderstorm added to the problem.

India's power sector, strained by poorly-maintained transmission lines and continued fuel supply shortages, has struggled to meet rapidly rising demand in Asia's third-largest economy. Crippling blackouts are common but Delhi, a sprawling city of 16 million people, has suffered particularly badly.

The newly-elected central government has pledged to improve supplies of power and water, but with key decisions devolved to local governments like that in Delhi, there are limits to what it can do.

(Reporting by Krishna N Das and Tommy Wilkes; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

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