Closure, fast, picketing, gate meeting mark protest

Protesting long hours of power cut in the district, thousands of micro and small-scale industries downed shutters for a day on Thursday.

Further, the Coimbatore-Tirupur District Micro and Cottage Entrepreneurs Association (COTMA) members are on an indefinite fast. Those of the Tamil Nadu Association of Cottage and Micro Enterprises (TACT) picketed in front of the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO) office at Tatabad here. Manufacturers at the SIDCO Industrial Estate, Kurichi, had a gate meeting at Kurichi.

Those joining the protests included wet grinder manufacturers, small-scale foundry and pump set manufacturing units, and the micro engineering industries that have just one or two machines and employ just a handful of workers. The production loss because of the one-day strike is estimated to be Rs. 150 crore to Rs. 200 crore.

The police removed 238 protestors from the TANGEDCO office and released them in the evening. As many as 118 members of Coimbatore Small Industries’ association who resorted to an alms-seeking agitation at Sundarapuram were removed and released in the evening. Nearly 700 persons participated in the indefinite fast and about 350 at the gate meeting.

“This is not a protest against the Government. We only want uninterrupted power supply,” said J. James, president of TACT. Power cuts for the last five years have led to drastic reduction of production at the micro units and unemployment. Cottage industries in the district that took up job orders for nearly Rs. 30 crore a day were unable to produce for even Rs. 3 crore a day now, he said.

“Only the unit owners participated in the fast. They will open the units tomorrow so that workers can continue their job when there is power and the owners will continue the fast,” said S. Ravikumar, president of COTMA. Joining the protestors at the fast venue, former minister Pongalur N. Palanisamy condemned the power cut.

The micro units sought uninterrupted power supply for at least eight hours in the day time, increase in power cut duration in Chennai so that the consumers in other parts of the State get relief from 14 hours of power cut a day, and expediting the power generation projects. Since the micro and small-scale units were unable to repay the bank loans on time because of the drop in production, the Government should extend financial support to these units, depending on the investment.

Nearly 500 units joined the protest at SIDCO Industrial estate, Kurichi and the manufacturers said the Government should purchase power from private generators and supply to the units.

The one-day shutdown every month for maintenance can be extended to even four days a month. But, power should be available on all the other days of the month, they said.