Rejecting the recent inordinate hike of 12.8% in power tariff with retrospective effect from April 1, 2011, industrialists of the state on Monday threatened the state government to roll back the hike within 10 days or face intensive agitation in all over the state.
Such a steep hike in power tariff was a cruel joke with the industrialists, who were already facing crisis due to high rate of taxes imposed in the state, president of federation of Jalandhar industrial and traders associations Gursharan Singh told reporters after a meeting of the association on the issue.
"It has been decided that we will not pay the hiked bill and rather prefer to close down our units," Singh said, adding that if state government failed to roll back the hiked tariff within the stipulated time, the business community would launch an intensive agitation all over the state.
Accusing the state government of misguiding the people on power tariff by issuing advertisements comparing the power tariff hike in other states, Singh said that figures in the advertisements were incorrect.
"Punjab is a border state and industrialists bring the raw material from other states before selling it further outside of Punjab involving high cost of freight, but instead of extending freight subsidy to make the products cost competitive in the domestic market, the state government has further increased the cost of product by increasing the power tariff to rout the industry of Punjab out of competition," Singh added.
President of furnace association of north India, KK Garg, said that induction furnace units would be the worst hit by the power tariff hike and were left with no option other than closing down their units.
"Two decades ago, Punjab government promoted installation of furnace units in the state by through claims of providing cheaper power, but now tariff of power is so high, making it an unviable business," Garg said, adding that power supply was irregular.
President of vyapar sena Ravinder Dhir said that business community was being overburdened by the state government to please the farm sector, where power subsidy worth about Rs 6,000 crore was being extended annually. "Why industry should be made to pay for the vote bank of ruling parties?" Dhir quipped, adding that it was high time for the industrial lobby to join hands and stand against the discriminatory attitude of the state government.
State vice-president of Laghu Udyog Bharti Vijay Talwar said that although the octroi was withdrawn long back, but still state government was charging octroi on power, making it costlier for consumers.