While industrial units in the city are feeling the pinch of power outages only for the past few days, those in the city fringes like Thirumazhisai have been suffering for over a year.
Members of the Ambattur Industrial Estate Manufacturers Association, which has nearly 1,800 units contributing to an annual turnover of Rs.2,000 crore, said that power cuts were experienced only for a short while now. “We do not know when the situation will worsen like in the other industrial estates,” said a member.
AIEMA members are among the industrial estate representatives who would be participating in a rally to be organised by Tamil Nadu Small and Tiny Industries Association (TANSTIA) on May 5 in all district headquarters protesting indiscriminate power interruptions.
TANSTIA's general secretary D.S.M. Jayarajan said the industries had been affected by power cut since January. While the industries in the city suffer power interruptions for over an hour every day and power cuts at frequent intervals of 10 minutes, those in rural areas have to endure blackout for nearly four hours every day. The industry is already battling the problems such as labour shortage. Power failures have only aggravated their woes. On an average, the industrial units take about 25-40 per cent loss in their profit daily.
Acting president of the Thirumazhisai Industrial Estate Manufacturers Association V.Venkatesh said: “We have been suffering power cuts regularly between noon and 3 p.m. We are unable to work either in morning or evening shift due to this. This trend has been continuing for over two years now.”
Of 220 units in the estate, 100 are small and tiny industries that operate without generators. As they are unable to work in such an environment, many of them are forced to shut down. While the industries pay Rs.5.50 per unit to TANGEDCO, they incur an expense of Rs.16 per unit when they use generators. Many industries suffer nearly 30 per cent production loss, he said.
President of Guindy Industrial Manufacturers Association K.V. Kanakambaram said that last week, power supply was suspended on three days. The reasons for power suspension included a ‘transformer burst' and shutdown for maintenance.
“For three days workers came but no work was done. Areas such as Ekkaduthangal, which have many small industries, were the hardest hit as they had to go without power,” he said.
“Power supply is cut for at least for two hours in the morning and evening every day. We sent letters to the Chief Engineer and chairman of the TANGEDCO, but there has been no response,” Mr. Kanakambaram said.
Increase in raw material prices and the diesel prices are only compounding the issue, he said. “We have suggested that each of the industrial estates in the city could opt for a weeklong rotational holiday until the power situation improves. Unlike big factories, we also contend with power fluctuation. This damages our machinery.”
TANSTIA members suggested that the government observe a power holiday once a week or implement power cut during early morning hours. If the government does not take action in a fortnight, TANSTIA plans to close industries and on an indefinite protest.
Using a generator results in an increase in production cost over a period of time given the price of diesel and it cannot be passed on to the customers, say small shopkeepers. Shopkeepers who have set up shops in the basement in smaller malls fear losing customers as they are unable to ensure complete lighting during power cuts.