Several parts of the State are, of late, experiencing longer duration of load shedding.

Officially, parts of the State other than Chennai are to have two-hour load shedding. However, reports from different regions point to the increase in the duration, ranging from six to eight hours.

A senior TANGEDCO official in Chennai acknowledges that the duration of unscheduled load shedding is around two-and-a-half hours apart from the two-hour load shedding. This was due to a “surge in demand” and the decision to restrict power purchase from private sources because of the poor financial condition of the Corporation. The State faced a shortage of 3,000 MW.

Bids have been floated for the purchase of 450 megawatt (MW) for a period of five months under Case 1 to meet the base load requirements of the State. The last date for submission of tender documents is February 18.

With the duration of load-shedding touching eight hours, the anguish among various sections of the industry in Coimbatore and other districts of the western region is beginning to manifest in various forms of protest.

After a demonstration by members of the Tamil Nadu Association of Cottage and Micro Enterprises (TACT) on Tuesday, the Coimbatore-Tirupur District Micro and Cottage Entrepreneurs Association (COTMA) members held a protest in front of the TANGEDCO's Chief Engineer on Wednesday. At a meeting in the evening, the TACT decided that its members units would display black flags as a mark of protest over the power situation.

In a memorandum to the TANGEDCO, the TACT pointed out that over 30,000 tiny and cottage units were affected by the power situation. The Tirupur knitwear industry has also been severely affected.

K.M. Sundar, secretary of a residents association in Madurai, refers to the plight of the students, by narrating how his son is having problems in preparing for the public examinations.

C. Muthuraman, secretary of Kappalur Industrial Estate Manufacturers' Association [Madurai], representing around 300 small units that are employing 12,000 workers, says that the power situation had worsened considerably in the last two days.

S. Pushpavanam, secretary of the Consumer Protection Council, Tiruchi, feels that the situation has gone from bad to worse. He said immediate steps should be taken to commission the Kudankulam nuclear power plant.

[With inputs from R. Srikanth in Chennai, V.S. Palaniappan in Coimbatore, R. Sairam in Madurai and S. Ganesan in Tiruchi]