Industrial units outside Chennai demand equitable power distribution

The tussle between the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Ltd (Tangedco) and the industrial units outside Chennai over alleged preference shown to Chennai region in implementing power cut is hotting up. A section of the affected industries has decided to knock at the doors of the Competition Commission of India (CCI) on the issue of equitable distribution of power.

Speaking to Business Line here on Sunday, a well known industrialist seeking to remain anonymous said that Tangedco had cited many reasons for preferential treatment to Chennai including Chennai being the administrative capital of the State. It had also cited that the city had State owned/controlled organisations, international/national airport, major hospitals and it was the tourism and business hub of the State.

But he pointed out that many of these reasons held good for places such as Coimbatore and some other major cities in the State as well.

He said there was a strong case for taking to the CCI the discriminatory treatment of a major portion of the State in the matter of enforcement of power cuts. It has been decided to approach the Commission in the coming days for a just implementation of the policy on power cut. This decision assumes significance in the context of the meeting of industry associations from all over the State, which was held in Coimbatore on Saturday where an appeal was made for equitable power supply across the State without any favourable bias towards Chennai.

Speaking to Business Line here today on the discussions yesterday, D. Balasundaram, President, Tamil Nadu Electricity Consumers Association (TECA), Coimbatore, said that as Chennai accounts for about one third of Tamil Nadu's power demand, extending power cut in Chennai from the present two hours a day to eight hours a day would enable Tangedco supply power for about 16 hours in the rest of Tamil Nadu, an area that now faces 16 hours of power blackout a day.

He explained that the prolonged power cuts in a major portion of the State had led to industries using generators which pushed up the cost of power to around Rs 15-16 a unit compared with around Rs 5 per unit for Tangedco power, This created unequal competition between suppliers located in Chennai region and those from outside it within the same State. The higher cost also eroded the cost competitiveness of industrial units located outside Chennai. This has been the situation for the past four years and felt it as ‘unfair’.

Balasundaram, drawing the attention to the submission made by Tangedco before the Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission about the ‘cramped status of the distribution network in Chennai’ because of which ‘the pillar box fuses would not last after a prolonged duration of load shedding’, said why should consumers in other parts of the State should suffer because of deficiency in infrastructure in one region.

(This article was published on December 9, 2012)
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