More than 700 wet grinder manufacturers in Coimbatore city downed their shutters on Thursday in protest against the Tamil Nadu government’s reported move to provide imported Chinese wet grinders free-of-cost to ration card holders in the State, hurting their business.

The Coimbatore Wet Grinders and Manufacturers Association (COWMA) had given the call for a strike over reports that two companies had submitted tenders to the Tamil Nadu Government Civil Supplies Corporation to supply about 21 lakh table-top grinders in a period of six months.

COWMA Secretary D Krishnamurthy claimed that the companies, from Karnataka and Gujarat, were “in no way” connected with wet grinder manufacturing and would import cheaper and “sub-standard” table tops from China for the scheme, since they knew it was “next to impossible” to supply such a large number within the stipulated time.

Opposing any move to grant the tender to one of the companies in question, he said the issue concerned the survival of traditional manufacturers in the region, considered to be the wet grinder capital of India, and also nearly 50,000 employees, as the industry was already hit by a slump in sales after the announcement of the free distribution of grinders and mixies to over 1.83 crore ration card holders.

Besides the manufacturers, the future of related segments like accessory suppliers, dealers and traders would also be threatened by such a move, he claimed.

Mr. Krishnamurthy said the industry would suffer a loss of about Rs 1.50 crore due to the one-day strike, adding that a memorandum detailing the difficulties the industry would face if the tenders were awarded to one of the companies in question would be submitted to the government.

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