Recent allocation of coal blocks have revived hope among vendors

Around the same time last year, ancillary units of BHEL were struggling to meet deadline for delivering output because of power scarcity.

A number of units among the over 400 ancillary industries had to depend on diesel generators to keep the operations running even if it meant a substantial rise in input costs.

Now, the power availability does not mean much to the industries owing to depleted orders, the industries are facing capacity under-utilisation.

Around 60 units have already been on the brink of closure.

Nearly 150 industries that were started in the last couple of years and those among established ones that had ramped up capacity in anticipation of higher orders are the most affected. Repayment of bank loans has hit them hard, according to Rajappa Rajkumar, Vice-President, Tamil Nadu Small and Tiny Industries Association.

Around 2,000 industrial workers had been rendered jobless, and the trend of workers shifting base to other parts of the State was perceptible, he said.

It was still possible for BHEL to play an ameliorative role by patronising local industries over away centre fabrication units, according to the local vendors. They are pinning hopes on a revival of situation following the coal block allocation to National Thermal Power Corporation and other utilities.

The NTPC being one of the major customers of BHEL, the vendors nurse hopes to scrape through the recession period.

The decision by the Centre to permit utilities to pass on the additional cost of imported coal to customers might not help the cause of the vendors.

A number of private power generation companies are wary since imported coal is more expensive by Rs. 2,000 a tonne. Their apprehension is because socio-political factors were not conducive for effecting increase in power cost.

Vendors acknowledge that the only scope that remains now for those among them who had created large production capacities was to identify new business partners and sustain their operations at least partially so that they could safeguard themselves from slipping into the debt trap.