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Frequent power cuts dilute ice plants’ profits

J. Praveen Paul Joseph
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Owners cannot afford to instal generators

Woes:Workers at an ice making unit in Tuticorin.— Photo: N. Rajesh
Woes:Workers at an ice making unit in Tuticorin.— Photo: N. Rajesh

: Ice manufacturing units are bearing the brunt of frequent and unscheduled power cuts.

The manufacture of ice, which enjoys high sales in summer, has been badly hit.

It takes two hours to resume normal operations following an hour’s suspension of power, according to G. Arulraja, president, Tuticorin Ice Plant Owners’ Association.

Minus 12 degree temperature should be maintained in plants for producing ice bars, which is not possible. The optimal production is 7,000 to 10,000 ice bars a day.

The owners of ice making units cannot afford to instal generators to offset the power cuts. With just a day left for the enforcement of a 45-day fishing ban to allow fish breeding in coastal waters, the ice production has almost come to a halt here.

There are 28 ice plants in the district. Apart from power cuts, dwindling fishery resources also affected production in 2012. As the fish catch was insufficient to meet expenditure, few boats ventured out to sea.

C. Johnson, who runs a unit at Threspuram, said that four days were required to produce 400 ice bars in the frequent power cut scenario, which could be produced on a single day when there is uninterrupted power supply.

"The production cost of an ice bar weighing 50 kilos ranges from Rs.65 to Rs.75 and its cost will be increased additionally to Rs.40, if alternative power supply is used," he said.

Out of 266 mechanised fishing boats in Tuticorin, only 40 boats operated on Saturday and 59 boats on Friday, official sources said. During the last five months, 55 days of fishing were available due to depleting fishing grounds, R. Antoniyappa, Secretary, Tuticorin Mechanised Boat Owners’ Association, said.

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