Majority of apparel units and shops down shutters in protest against the prevailing power crisis
The dawn-to-dusk total closure of units observed by CPI (M), CPI, MDMK, Manithaneya Makkal Katchi and Forward Bloc in Tirupur knitwear cluster on Wednesday evoked tremendous response as almost 90 per cent of apparel units and 80 per cent of shops downed shutters.
The agitation, which got the support of leading trade unions like CITU, AITUC, INTUC, HMS, BMS, MLF and LPF, was called to protest the continuing power crisis and for demanding distribution of diesel at subsidised rates to farmers and industrialists to help them use generators at profitable rates during the load shedding hours.
The apparel production was almost paralysed and even the miniscule number of units which were kept open on the day could not operate in full swing as the workforce did not turn up in its optimal strength.
The loss in apparel production in the cluster due to the agitation was pegged at around Rs 55 crore.
“One day loss is not a concern for the apparel entrepreneurs in the cluster since the majority of them are facing closures due to the severity of power crisis. It is an appeal that all textile associations in the cluster should stand united when it comes to representing the power crisis issues in the days ahead,” G.R.Senthivel, secretary of Tirupur Exporters and Manufacturers Association, said.
The planned procession by representatives of textile associations and trade unions from near Railway Station to Collectorate in the morning to submit a petition to the Collector was dropped at the last moment as police denied permission for the procession. The entrepreneurs and trade unionists who gathered at the starting point went in a police van to the Collectorate to give the petition and return.
In the evening, workers in the power loom sector staged a demonstration at Mangalam on Wednesday evening asking the State government to take steps to improve the power supply to the units.
“Life of lakhs of workers in the sector becomes miserable if the power loom units shutdown due to the power crisis,” they said.
The Tirupur Exporters and Manufacturers Association (TEAMA) has appealed to the State government to release subsidies to knitwear units in Tirupur cluster for setting up solar power gadgets and for offsetting the cost of diesel to run generators, till the power supply from the grid stabilizes. In a representation sent to Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, the TEAMA president M.P.Muthurathinam pointed out that the predominant small and medium scale enterprises in the apparel production chain in the cluster had been plunged into a quandary due to load shedding lasting more than 12 hours a day.
“Many units have already been closed as their owners cannot afford running the production schedules using diesel generators. More units are on the verge of closure,” he said.
The Association said entrepreneurs were under tremendous stress at the moment as it was still uncertain when the power situation would get back to normalcy.
“In this scenario, financial assistance to help the units run on alternative power sources has become the need of the hour. With Diwali orders to be executed, immediate intervention of the State government in the issue is important,” Mr. Muthurathinam said.
The entrepreneurs also reiterated the need to augment power production by starting new projects on a time-bound basis to avoid the industries in the State plunging into another crisis in the future.