ONGOLE/VIJAYAWADA: Amid the power crisis prevalent in several parts of the country due to the shortage of coal, fear of labour crisis in industries is looming. In Prakasam district, four friends and migrant workers — Rajesh, KN Nayak, Raghu, and Ram Singh—have been working in the Chimakurthy Granite Industry for the past five years. However, after the government imposed load-relief measures on industries due to the power crisis, their earnings have taken a hit as the working hours have been truncated. As a result, they have decided to head back to their hometowns in Rajasthan.
“I came to Chimakurthy around five years ago and since then I have been working as a polishing machine operator here. I used to earn around `80,000 per month. But for the last few months, I have been paid only half of it,” Rajesh said, adding the amount is not sufficient for his needs and for sending it back home.
Workers who specialise in stone polishing using heavy machinery usually belong to Rajasthan, Odisha, Bihar and Jharkhand. It has been learnt that some of them have already left as the working conditions and pay were not to their satisfaction.
In the first week of April, the State government had imposed restrictions on power usage for industries due to the rising gap in supply and demand. Industries were asked to go on a one-day power holiday besides the weekly off. They were allowed to function only for 12 hours.
Migrant workers in Chimakurthy granite units forced to return home
With only five days a week that too with restricted working hours and unofficial power cuts, workers, as well as management, are facing a hard time. If power holidays and outages continue further, several granite units in Chimakurthy, Budawada, RL Puram will face labour issues.
The granite industries, which were already reeling due to the Covid pandemic, are now again in a fix due to the power crisis. Those who took granite units on lease are renegotiating with owners for a reduction of payments. On the other hand, there has been no encouraging assistance from the government, even as representatives from the granite industries have been submitting pleas to the government for grants, subsidies, and incentives which would help the industry’s revival.
“We are facing a very tough time with restrictions on power usage. Working hours, as well as business turnovers, have drastically dropped and many units are on the edge of closure due to the present unfavourable situation,” Rami Reddy, a granite processing industry proprietor told TNIE.
Granite industries are not a lone case. The restricted power usage is adversely impacting other power-intensive industries, too. According to the AP Chambers, hundreds of mega industries across the State have been imposed with the power holiday. But the impact is relatively higher for power-intensive industries such as Ferro Alloys, Textiles, Cement and Steel Melting Industries (Foundries).
They have requested the State government to consider buying power from Independent Power Producers (IPPs) who are willing to supply or alternatively allow the industry to purchase power from them directly by clearing procedural bottlenecks.
In their representation to the government, the AP Chambers said, “The industries should be given the freedom to buy power from any IPP within the State without levying unviable charges and penalties. They should be given a free hand to establish captive power generation units in order to overcome power crisis in the future.” The AP Chambers also urged the government to explore opportunities to buy power from other States where it is in surplus.
In a representation to the government last month, industry representatives from the Chamber explained that the directives issued to implement power holidays will have a negative impact on MSMEs. The power holiday has caused severe anxiety among the entrepreneurs as they fear they would suffer severely if production targets are not met.