Micro & small industries to go on strike in Tamil Nadu
Small industries alleged that fixed charges, especially for the low-tension (LT) connections, increased last year and hampered their activity and profit margin significantly.
CHENNAI: Micro and small-scale industries in Tamil Nadu announced that they shut down their operations on Monday protesting against peak-hour electricity charges, and fixed charges on power load, among other things. Representative bodies of more than 250 industrial estates, product/sector-based organisations and district-based associations formed Tamil Nadu Industrial Electricity Consumers' Federation earlier this month. They have collectively decided to shut down their operations against the tariff structure of the state-owned distribution company Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO).
The industry umbrella body decided to go on with the strike despite Chief Minister MK Stalin's efforts to calm them down. On Saturday he made a series of announcements providing respites such as a cut in fixed charges, a slight reduction in peak-hour tariff, and flexibility for seasonal industries to change the electrical load four times a year, based on demand. These will have revenue forgone of Rs 2,000 crores for the discom, a release from the government estimated. Industry representatives said their concerns and demands were not addressed by the government and decided to continue the strike.
Micro and small industrial units from various sectors, including automobile component makers, knitwear suppliers, machinery manufacturers, defence component makers, rice mills, printing companies to smaller industries like pappadam makers. Federation's coordinator J James said associations and industries across the state, representing more than 8 lahks (appx.) industrial units have joined them and claimed a one-day strike would lead to the non-use of 9 MW electricity. It is also expected to impact lakhs of workers employed by the MSME units.
The organisers have decided to explore the next steps if the Tamil Nadu government doesn't respond to the demands, including a prolonged strike, which would have ramifications for the state's major industrial sectors like automobiles, textiles, and leather, among others.
Small industries alleged that fixed charges, especially for the low-tension (LT) connections, increased last year and hampered their activity and profit margin significantly. They demand a reduction in fixed charges for LT IIIA (1) and LT III B category customers and for high tension (HT) connections.
Tamil Nadu Industrial Electricity Consumers' Federation also urged the government to remove peak-hour charges for low-tension connections. Speaking to TNIE, James said there's no sub-meter to track peak-hour usage and an arbitrary 15% charge on total consumption has been imposed on micro and small-scale industries. These charges would apply even if we don't consume power during those hours, he added. The federation calls for a reduction of the peak time to four hours from eight at present and charge 20% for high-tension lines.
K Baskaran, an industrial manufacturer near Chennai said most of the MSME units operate from 10 am to 6 pm and the peak-hour tariff hinders the industrial output in the state. Though the state government offers certain subsidies in tariff during the night, it is useless for most industries, except for continuously running industries, he added.
Industry owners also demand permits for the direct purchase of electricity from private players and the removal of solar networking charges.