Power crisis short-circuits factory output across country

Anil Sasi New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018


Industrial output could be dented further in the coming months as the worsening power situation is beginning to hit factories across the country.

With no end to the ongoing power crisis that has been sparked by a severe coal supply crunch, most States have resorted to load-shedding of 8-14 hours for industrial consumers.

Punjab has asked the foundries to down shutters for at least three days a week while units from the sports goods hub of Jallandhar and bicycle-parts cluster of Ludhiana are facing increasing hours of outages.

In Andhra Pradesh, industrial units are facing a three-day power holiday and four hours of power cuts daily.

Karnataka is resorting to a roster system for industrial units in a desperate bid to stagger demand; 3.1 lakh industrial units are said to be facing a production loss of more than 60 per cent on a daily basis due to power supply disruptions.

In Maharashtra, load-shedding has been reported in the industrial belt of Thane and Nashik, while in both Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, industry is facing more hours of outage as the utilities are running out of funds to buy power in the spot market.

Coming against the backdrop of slowing growth, the power crisis threatens to derail factory output further. The April-August Index of Industrial Production (IIP) data had come in at 5.6 per cent against 8.7 per cent a year ago.

“It's only the very large players, some 800 large industrial units countrywide, that have captive power generation facilities of reasonable scale and can operate independent of supplies from the grid.

“The worst affected are the medium and small units that rely on the grid and use mostly small and inefficient diesel generating sets as backup,” a senior official at the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) said.

In Andhra Pradesh alone, the industry's losses on account of the power shortages are estimated at upwards of Rs 5,000 crore, going by industry estimates.

“Most of the small-scale industries do not have a power back-up. And once the power supply is restored, it takes units several hours to restart operations, resulting in major losses in hours of production,” according to a representative of the Federation of Andhra Pradesh Small Industries Associations.

Currently, in Punjab, the power cuts range from 2-4 days for the furnace industries and one day a week for all the remaining industries. In Haryana also industries are grappling with nearly 14 hours of cuts daily — from 00:00-08:00 hours and again from 18:00-24:00 hours.

In Karnataka, though the industry has agreed to downing shutters on a staggered basis, the industry bodies have said that it is conditional to the utilities providing uninterrupted power through the rest of the week.

Published on October 14, 2011

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