Sunday’s decision to impose another day of power shutdown in all industrial areas might have sounded the death knell of industries in state.
The Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (MSEDCL) issued directives that all industrial areas it caters to will have an extra 24-hour shutdown. This would be in addition to the one weekly off.
After domestic consumers who’re already reeling under four to 16-hour load-shedding, the industries in Maharashtra now face a grim future. Experts feel that the hundred per cent power shutdown for an additional day every week will cause a slow and sure death of the industries in the state which boasts of being number one among others in attracting investment.
“The power shortage could prove to be the Achilles’ heel for Maharashtra,” said Indian Merchants’ Chamber president Nayan Patel. Alarmed by the situation, IMC has organized a weekend conference of all stakeholders including the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC), state power utilities and others.
“Our worst fear appears to be coming true as industries in Maharashtra cannot remain economically viable for the next two years when some new major projects are expected to be commissioned,” Patel added.
This year alone, the state signed memorandum of understanding for over Rs 45,000 crore investment of which a significant share comes from international players. Experts say that the current power scene would send bad signals to the investors.
Usha Joshi from Thane’s Ghodbunder Industrial area said most of units have changed the shift timing to 1 am to 10 pm because of 4-hour load shedding.
“The majority are female workers who could go home only after 10 pm. Such a rationale would drive the workers away and seek other jobs -whatever, but definitely this is a loss to the industry and the nation,” she said.
Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh on Monday reciprocated IMC’s stand when he held an emergency meeting of all related ministers and bureaucrats.
The Energy Department insisted on buying additional 500MW from costly resources and asked the Finance Department to sanction required money as it would cost MSEDCL a bomb for next four months.
“Getting MERC’s approval for power purchase will take some time so we want the State exchequer to share the burden,” said Energy Minister Dilip Walse Patil. He hoped that the situation would not be repeated next year because the state would have additional 2300MW supply by then. He said till then the state needs industry’s voluntary participation in energy conservation.
Industry Minister Ashok Chavan said from Nanded that he was aware of the problem. “Anyways we will discuss the issue in tomorrow’s Cabinet meeting. “I will also have a separate with meeting Walse-Patil and industry representatives a day after.”
Walse-Patil said the Deputy Chief Minister (in charge of Home Department) R.R patil would also be invited for the meeting as “it was turing out to be law and order problem across the state’.
On Monday, the anti-load shedding protests were held in 27 districts.