Acute power crisis has reduced production by 50 per cent

The ginning industry is facing its toughest crisis as an acute power crisis is threatening the very existence of ginning mills in the district.

With a combined capacity of 16,000 ginning machines, about 200 ginning mills with an intake of 50 lakh bales should be going at full steam ginning and pressing the cotton kapas (bales) at this time of the year.

The ginning season starts in November and lasts until the end of March. But with an acute power crisis staring at the State, the ginning machines are lying idle and an air of uncertainty is looming large over the industry.

Power holidays

“Out of six days, we are running the machinery only for three days. The SPDCL insisted that we observe two days as power holidays and keep machinery idle during peak hours from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. which means we are just using 40 per cent of the power,’’ said Nannapaneni Raghava Rao, secretary of the A.P Ginning Mills Association.

Protesting against the power cut, the association gave a call for a complete strike from November 5, but later relented in view of floods.

The crisis has its cascading effect on the labour too, as most of the labourers engaged in ginning mills, have now turned towards construction industry. With the machines lying idle for three days out of six days, it is getting difficult for the managements to retain the labour.

In the long turn, prolonged crisis in ginning industry could spell disaster for farmers too as ginning mills would seek to offset losses suffered due to power crisis by increasing cost of ginning and pressing.

The ginning charges for each bale now comes to about Rs.1,000 and this might increase in future.

For some of the entrepreneurs who have invested heavily in modern machinery under the Technology Mission on Cotton (TMC), the power shortage came out like a bolt from the blue.

“The TMC ginning mills with automated ginning machinery, from processing to ginning and pressing require a lot of power and are dependant less on manual labour,’’ said secretary of TMC ginning mills association A. Krishna.

“We are operating just 24 gins out of the 48 gins at the mill. We are using just 50 per cent of the power. How long can we continue with the meagre power supply?’’ questioned M.Venkateswara Rao, managing director of MVR Cotton Oil Mills Pvt Ltd at Vinjanampadu village.