Industrialists protest against power cuts

Dehra Dun: Industrialists and businessmen in Uttarakhand have sought urgent steps to improve the power situation and staged street protests in the past few days against the unprecedented power cuts in the state.

The state-run power generation company UJVN, which produces 20 million units during the monsoon season on daily basis, is now generating only 5-10 million units, official sources said.

The power crisis has become severe in the hill state as many hydel projects stopped electricity production due to large quantities of silt in the major rivers like Yamuna, Tons and Ganga. The power woes of the industries also compounded after two-days of grid collapse on July 30-31 with the government trying to avoid its heavy dependency on the Northern Grid.

Several groups of industrialists at Haridwar, especially at Roorkee and Bahadarabad areas, have held protests during the past few days against the power breakdown. Senior officials of the Uttarakhand Power Corporation (UPCL), the sole power distributing utility in the state, have said the power situation will improve after buying power from the energy exchange.

A delegation of the Industries Association of Uttarakhand, an apex body of SMEs, led by its President Pankaj Gupta recently met Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna and lodged a strong protest against the power cut to industries.

"The situation in Uttarakhand is very bad as far as power is concerned. This is leading to resentment among the industrialists. We have asked the CM to buy more power from the open market in order to give relief to the industries," Gupta told reporters.

Other regions` industry bodies including, Kuamon and Garhwal Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Bahadarabad Industry Association, have also voiced their concern over the power situation.

Most of the industries are using power backup arrangements, which is turning out to be very costly affair.

Against the UPCL`s industrial tariffs of Rs 4.20 per unit, industrialists claim that the cost from diesel generators cost around Rs 9-10 per unit, which is putting pressure on their profit margins.

"If we have to use diesel generators, then we will not be able to run our industries," Yogesh Jindal, owner of Kashi Vishwanath Steels (KVS), said.