Several industrial units in Coimbatore district, which is hit by long hours of power cut, stopped production for 12 hours on Wednesday demanding that available power be equitably distributed across the State.
The units, mainly micro, small and medium-scale enterprises, did not operate from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Many traders in the city also shut shop to support the strike by the units. The total production loss suffered by the units here because of the strike is estimated to be Rs. 500 crore.
Representatives of nearly 25 industrial associations in Coimbatore submitted memoranda to District Collector M. Karunagaran and Chief Engineer of Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco) A. Thangavelu seeking equitable distribution of power across the State.
D. Balasundaram, chairman of the Tamil Nadu Electricity Consumers’ Joint Action Council, which includes nearly 140 industrial associations in the rest of the State except Chennai, told The Hindu on Wednesday that the response from the SMEs in Coimbatore district was almost 100 per cent. A large number of units in Hosur, Erode, and Madurai had also downed shutters as part of the strike.
However, large-scale industries and the organised sector textile mills continued operations. As part of the protest, the industrial unit owners here had sent 50,000 telegrams to the Chief Minister.
Power cut in the district now was for nearly six hours during the day and for one or two hours during the night. Industries are restricted from using the grid power from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Power cut had recently declined from the earlier 14 hours a day because the demand had dropped and the Tangedco was buying power. The situation might not be the same in February and March and it was expected to be the toughest in April.
With no response from the Tangedco, the council would meet again to decide the next course of action, he said.
All the southern States faced power shortage. Maharashtra was able to resolve the problem even four years ago by dividing the feeders to different groups and supplying more power to areas from where it realised higher revenue.
Mr. Balasundaram suggested that Tamil Nadu could have more State-owned or private distribution companies and the consumers could have the option of buying power from the company of their choice.
Similarly, consumers in a specific geographical area could be ensured 24-hour supply by purchasing from different sources, and they could pay the additional cost incurred.
About a lakh powerlooms in Somanur and Palladam areas have stopped production for four days from Wednesday, in protest against power cut and seeking reduction in power tariff.
The job-working powerloom units also sought a yarn depot at Somanur, loans at low interest, and funds (Rs. 225 crore) from the Union Government to help the small-scale units modernise.
P. Kumarasamy, secretary of the Coimbatore District Job Working Powerloom Unit Owners’ Association, said the job working units used to incur 28 paisa as power cost for production of a metre of fabric.
With the revision of tariff in 2012, they incurred 75 paise for a metre. The units used diesel generators to continue production when there was no power and the power cost was six times higher if they used generators.
Some of the members of Change India are on an indefinite fast here seeking equitable distribution of power.
R. Vimal Kumar adds from Tirupur
Demanding uniform distribution of power across the state and seeking concessions in captive power distribution, the owners of almost 75 per cent of the power loom job working units in Avinashi and Palladam clusters downed the shutters of their units on Wednesday.
N. Muthusamy, president of Avinashi Powerloom Cloth Manufacturers Association, said it was unfair to have prolonged power cuts in most of the parts even as Chennai had only two of load shedding.
“Whatever power generated/available should be uniformly distributed,” he added.
The entrepreneurs said that the government should give diesel at subsidised rates to industrial units, like in the case of fishermen, till the existing power crisis in the state was solved.
Another demand put forward by the industrialists was that they should be charged for electricity usages up to 1,000 units.