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Major energy crisis grips India’s capital

India's capital is reeling under a major energy crisis as searing temperatures hit their highest in 62 years.

NEW DELHI: India's capital is reeling under a major energy crisis as searing temperatures hit their highest in 62 years.

With people outraged by the frequent outages, the new government is facing its first major challenge since storming to power in the country's May elections.

How the Indian Prime Minister and his government tackles this perennial problem will be a test of Narendra Modi's election promises to develop the country's infrastructure.

Emotions are boiling over on the scorching streets of northwest Delhi, as frustrated residents ransack vehicles in protest.

They are seething with anger at the government's ineptitude at ensuring that their lights and air-conditioning stay on.

Others who cannot afford the modern comforts of electricity-cooled air have resorted to sleeping on the streets to escape the suffocating slums.

New Delhi is experiencing its highest temperatures in over six decades, and the surge in demand for electricity in the midst of the heatwave has overwhelmed supply.

Power outages and the introduction of emergency energy-saving measures have left thousands of people without electricity, in some cases for up to 15 consecutive hours a day.

Even as the Modi-led government promises development and is wooing foreign investment, its capital in northern India suffers from a severely dilapidated energy infrastructure that can't cope with the growing energy needs of the city.

As the crisis of power, or the lack of it, reaches a boiling point, the blame game has begun, with parties politicising the sensitive issue.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has accused the former Congress government for its incompetence in solving the state's ongoing energy issues.  

Indian Junior Power Minister Piyush Goyal said: "Congress has been in power for 15 years in Delhi. In 15 years they didn't invest to take care of the ever-increasing demand, and today the citizens of Delhi are facing this crisis thanks to their ineptitude."

Responsibility for the capital's power supply falls under the auspices of the Delhi state government, which is now under central rule.

The fledgling Aam Aadmi Party said the federal government cannot escape its responsibility.

Manish Sisodia, Aam Aadmi Party leader, said: "When Aam Aadmi Party was in power and a power crisis situation was imminent, the government immediately summoned all electricity companies and issued a strict warning to deflate the crisis. We provided a 24-hour power supply at subsidised rates."

Prime Minister Modi's government needs to find a permanent fix to the problem.

If not, the energy crisis could hamper Mr Modi's efforts for reforms, particularly as he campaigned on his success as chief minister of Gujarat, which enjoys a surplus of power.  

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