Industrial sector sees red over intermittent power supply

Protest staged over breaks in power supply

Hit by the blow delivered by COVID-19, industries, like many other sectors, have only started making a slow recovery. But apart from the challenges due to the pandemic and its impact, they say intermittent power supply is turning out to be another spoke in the wheel.

On Friday, members of the Machohalli Small Scale Industries Association staged a protest alleging severe power shortage.

Suresh N. Sagar, vice-president of the association, said they have been faced with power disruptions for a decade. “Earlier, there were fewer industries. Now, the numbers are huge as they are unable to get a place in the city. In Machohalli, private land has been taken on lease or rent. There are a minimum of 1,500 industries now, employing around 25,000 people. Apart from paying revenue of up to ₹7 crore per month to the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom), we are also paying ₹500 crore a month in GST and other taxes,” he said, alleging that despite this there were no facilities, not even motorable roads.

“Sans power, we cannot run industry. I am manufacturing a plastic component. When the power goes, the polymer in liquid state will be solidified. This cannot be used and I have to throw out 5 kg of material worth ₹2,000. MSMEs are already in a bad state and we are only recovering now,” he said.

Shrinath Bhandary, energy expert, Karnataka Small Scale Industries Association, said the irony was that Karnataka today was producing excess power. Power is available, but agencies are not being able to make it available because of poor infrastructure, he said. “In Machohalli, for example, there is four hours of load shedding a day. There is a legal issue in establishing a line to Tavarekere. Industries in Karnataka are not getting any benefits.”

He added that though HT was the highest consuming sector, tariffs are enhanced every year, resulting in many leaving the Bescom grid as power was more cheaply available on open access. “Even the incentive is of no use as a person drawing power above 100 units before COVID-19 when business was good is drawing 60 to 70 units now,” he added.

Mr. Bhandary said similar issues were being reported from Dobbaspet too, though Peenya Industrial Area has seen an improvement with upgraded infrastructure.

‘No shortage’

Bescom managing director P. Rajendra Cholan told The Hindu there was no power shortage in the State and, on the contrary, it was selling surplus power on the exchange. “Machohalli is a different issue as there are system constraints. The Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation has already taken initiative and is working on that. As for other industrial areas, we are selecting five to be developed as model ones. They will be developed on 17 parameters, including an exclusive unit to address their issues, UG and AB cables, etc.,” he said.

Mr. Cholan acknowledged that in some areas, UG cable work was under way, as a result of which there were scheduled outages.

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