The National Academy of Sciences, in a recent report, has warned that terrorists can cause black outs in large parts of the United States by attacking the power grid. The report adds that terrorists can also blow up substations or transmission lines with explosives, causing major damage.
Even in India, power grids can be a major target for terrorist outfits and any strike on them can plunge the nation into darkness.
The government has decided to give the power grid police more powers to meet with the various challenges before them.
A report about the possibility of attacks on India's power grids states that the most major attack may be a cyber one, launched by hackers, leading to a major shutdown.
Recently, officials from the power department, the police and the Intelligence Bureau carried out an audit of the critical information infrastructure.
After the audit, officials concluded that terrorists can either blow up power grids or carry out a sophisticated cyber attack to cripple the grids.
When a major blackout hit north India recently, some officials considered the possibility of it being the result of a cyber attack, but they realised that the power failure was due to overdrawing by some states.
India has also been studying the various vulnerabilities faced by the power grid. The recent black-out served as a wake-up call about how crippling such a crisis can be. In case of a major cyber attack, large parts of India may have to do without power for several weeks.
India is not quite ready to handle the fall-out of such an attack, as it would take days to figure out the origin of a sophisticated cyber attack.
To secure the power grids and avoid any kind of shutdown, the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre will be set up soon. The idea of setting up a command centre to monitor all possible critical information was recently approved by the National Security Council.
The command centre will monitor changes to the power grid regularly and pass on critical information to the team at the respective power station, which will then rectify the flaw.
The number of commandoes deployed to guard the power grids will also be increased.
The chaos caused by an attack on a power grid can last for weeks and can severely damage the local infrastructure and economy.
The terror operatives recently detained in Bangalore, as well as terrorist Abu Jundal, had admitted that they had planned to target power grids and nuclear plants in India.