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Power cuts in Vellore district

VELLORE: Unannounced power cuts from eight to 12 hours a day are forcing industries to take their work to other states to complete export orders on time. This is also affecting the relationship between the industry and workers.
Ambur Tanneries Association Secretary, Fiaz Ahmed said that Vellore district is one of the major producers of leather shoes and other leather products. It constitutes over 40 per cent of the leather produce in the country. These industries also export to countries such as Germany, Italy, USA and China. He added that there are about 500 tanneries and 650 shoe manufacturing units. Most of these units come under tiny, small and medium sectors and are directly or indirectly involved in the export. He said that apart from the scheduled power cut they experience power cuts for about 12 hours in a day, in intervals of one and a half hours to three hours. This hampers production as some of the machines in the heavy industries take at least two hours to heat up and begin functioning. With more than 70 per cent of the workers being women, it is difficult for them stay back at night to complete work, he said. However, they work for 14 hours against the usual eight hours. All this affects employer-employee relations. Even then, the production target is being met as they take the orders to neighbouring states such as Andhra Pradesh to complete. This eventually increases the cost of production, which is augmented by the ‘over-time charge’ paid to employees, he added. These industries do business of about `5,000 crore per year, but it would go down by 20 per cent this accounting year, he noted. On the whole, over 30,000 employees belonging to all sectors in the district may lose their jobs if this continues for the next month, said Vellore district Small and Tiny Industries Association President Amirtha Ganesan. He added that there are about 15,000 industries in the district and the power cut had already led to a loss of `100 crore. Along with 13 other associations of all the sectors, Ganesan picketed the EB office in Ranipet on Tuesday and submitted a petition to collector Ajay Misra. They demanded the functioning of the Koondankulam nuclear plant to meet power demands. Ganesan also said that windmills function in the southern districts of Kanyakumari and Nagercoil during April, May and June, but even this would not solve the problem as the infrastructure. He also demanded a power holiday for a day or two per week rather than several power cuts every day as machines get damaged because of the power cut. Vellore district Micro, Small and Medium Entrepreneurs association President Saminathan said the most affected are the small and the medium industries which result in loss of jobs. These small industries cannot even afford to use generators and diesel. If at all they use diesel, they face fuel shortage once in two weeks, he added. When an official from the EB department was contacted, he said, “We act only according to the instruction of the authorities, and that is why we could not follow the scheduled power cut. Koondankulam nuclear power plant could be opened to solve the situation. Even then, we could not supply power for the whole 24 hours, but follow the usual two-hour power cut schedule.”