Thousands of workers and industrialists from more than 35 trade bodies in the district staged a protest here on Thursday demanding uninterrupted power supply to industrial units.

Apart from taking a protest march to the Collectorate, where they staged a dharna and raised slogans, industrial units and shops also downed their shutters as part of a one-day strike.

The traders also presented a list of demands to the District Revenue Officer (DRO) B. Murugesh as Collector U. Sagayam was not in station and A. Nachadalingam, Chief Engineer (Distribution) of Madurai Region, Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO).

The sitting MLA of Madurai East, N. Nanmaran, who inaugurated the march, said that multinational companies were being supplied uninterrupted power at the expense of small and medium enterprises though the small units were the most important to the economy.

While concurring with the trade bodies' demand of equitable distribution of both power and load shedding, he said that ultimate goal should be a power cut-free State. Apart from expressing confidence that the traders' protest would attain success, the veteran Marxist leader also assured them of his continued support.

Tamil Nadu Small and Tiny Industries Association (TANSTIA) vice-president KR. Gnanasambandan said that the reason for staging this protest before the formation of the next Government was to highlight the grave nature of the crisis.

“This protest,” he said, “was also intended to urge the next Government, regardless of whichever party forms it, to accord high priority to solving the crisis.” He also demanded separate agencies for generation and distribution of power, both of which were currently entrusted to TANGEDCO.

While the Government was projecting Tamil Nadu as being in the forefront in many sectors, what was not being highlighted was the fact the State's electricity board had the highest losses in the country. The huge losses, pegged at Rs. 16,700 crore, were the reason the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board was being denied credit to invest in new power plants.

Another main demand was the State Government should distribute the available power equally without discrimination. Other demands include scrapping the peak hour restrictions (6 p.m. and 10 p.m.) on power consumption imposed on high tension units and increasing subsidy on diesel generators besides scrapping the proposed tax on generators.

Madurai District Tiny and Small Scale Industries Association (MADITSSIA) president N. Somasundaram, Tamil Nadu Foodgrains Merchants Association vice-president P. Subash Chandra Bose and MADITSSIA Executive Committee member ‘Perrys' P. Mahendravel, spoke.

Keywords: load shedding

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