A regime change in the State has opened up hopes for the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) sector in the region that their long-pending requirements for sustainable operations will be fulfilled in right earnest.

Over the last few years, the small industries sector, particularly the vendors of the public sector giant Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL), had been knocking in vain at the doors of the State's policy makers for some constructive steps to extricate them from the hopeless situation caused by power shortage. Last year, they could complete only 2.15 lakh tonnes, which was 17,000 tonnes less than the previous year's output.

The small industries are in a rather peculiar situation.

On the one hand, the banks are prepared to provide requisite funding, banking on the robust growth-oriented scenario of power sector envisaged by the planning commission during the eleventh and twelfth five-year plans, and on the other, the BHEL is keen on according priority for local vendors not only by offering them more load for conversion but also by its open-mindedness to consider revision of rate contracts, factoring in the escalation in the cost of operations.

Manpower has always been a problem for the vendors, but the industrialists are hopeful that they could tide over this factor through investments in mechanisation, what with the nationalised banks like the State Bank of India evincing interest to fund the projects.

Yet, they are unable to move forward due to the power shortage.

Conveying his wishes to the new Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on behalf of the Tamil Nadu Small and Tiny Industries' Association, its Vice-President Rajappa Rajkumar said: “It is the SMEs that provide the highest employment next only to the agricultural sector, and hence meeting their requirements will be in the interests of the nation. We are confident that the Chief Minister Jayalalithaa by virtue of representing the Srirangam constituency will be in a position to have a clear understanding of the predicament faced by BHEL's vendor community.”

BHELSIA's representations to the AIADMK government in the past had always been fruitful. “We are certain that the present dispensation will ease the sufferings of the industrial community.” Mr. Rajappa Rajkumar, who is also the president of BHELSIA, said. What the vendors of BHEL look for now is guarantee of power supply in the short run, in the interests of the tangible economic growth of the nation.

To sustain the growth of the vendors in the long-run, the BHEL Small Industries' Association (BHELSIA) has begun to make progress with its plan to start a captive power plant to meet its power requirements.

The BHELSIA has already formed a technical committee to scrutinise proposals coming in from the eastern countries for establishing the captive power plant with second-hand equipment, with the requisite back-up support from the State Government.