July 3, 2021 5:39:10 am
While top industrialists advised “patience” over a “blame game” and said that the massive power shortage plaguing Punjab was “largely” due to a long dry spell, the central and north zones of the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) have extended compulsory weekly offs of large scale, steel rolling and furnaces from two days to three.
Units operational in designated industrial areas in the central zone will now remain off till 2 pm on July 4 while in mixed land use areas, units under the same category will remain off till 8 am on July 5. However, units under the north zone in the same categories will remain off till 8 pm on July 5.
Ludhiana, Khanna, sub-urban, Mandi Gobindgarh, Amloh and Sirhind areas come in the central zone while Jalandhar, Phagwara and Hoshiarpur come in the north zone. These are the industrial hubs of the state.
On Thursday afternoon, PSPCL had issued a hasty order of 48 hours’ compulsory weekly offs for large scale (LS), steel rolling and furnaces in the central zone. The industry got only three hours’ notice to shut down their units in designated industrial areas.
Similar category units working in mixed land use areas had to observe compulsory weekly offs from 8 am, July 2 to 8 am, July 4, which now has been extended to 8 am, July 5. In north zone, however, these orders will remain till 8 pm, July 5, as against 8 pm, July 4.
The orders have not gone down well amongst industrial circles. Jaswinder Singh Thukral, president of the Janta Nagar Small Scale Manufacturers Association said, “This shows complete failure on the part of the PSPCL CMD, shutting down industry is not justified. If large units are closed…there is no point of small units doing any manufacturing as they are interlinked. We will be protesting against CMD on Saturday morning at Giaspura PSPCL office.”
Industrialists recalled that over a decade ago as well, similar curbs were imposed and industry was told to shut during paddy transplantation for four days in a week. Rajeev Jain, industrialist and officebearer of the Federation of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings (FICO), added, “What should industry do if they have been told to shut down? Should we go in fields to do paddy transplantation? Till how long will they burden the industry? We are still reeling under loss due to Covid. It is uncalled for to shut industry. Why did the government shut down its own thermals when private had not to run their units at full potential?”
TOP INDUSTRIALISTS SAY
However, Sachit Jain, vice-chairman, Vardhman Steel industries, said: “In the past we fought against Covid…oxygen supply was well-regulated in Punjab. Now we are facing yet another challenge of power shortage which is largely due to a long dry spell…I feel that it will be resolved soon. We do understand that it is the time of paddy transplantation and farmers need water for the same. However, I have a request before Punjab government that only one segment should not be chosen for curbs, it should be distributed rationally among other segments as well.”
Upkar Singh, president of the Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings (CICU) said: “As of now farmers need water for paddy crop, we hope that monsoon will arrive soon so as to ease the situation. We didn’t face any power problem in the past four and a half years.”
Karan Gilhotra, chairman of PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said, “This is the time to have patience, rather than focusing on blame game. However I appeal government to rationalise power cuts rather than focusing only on one sector.”
PSPCL CMD A Venuprasad said, “Around 1,000 MW load has been reduced by following all curbs in the state. We are supplying around 13,500 MW of power everyday and still facing problems because demand has reached an all-time high, crossing 14,000 MW like never before. Talwandi Sabo thermal units are not generating in full capacity due to major damage. However as of now, the monsoon has delayed, which is leading to all these problems. It had not happened in the past…now there has been a dry spell for the past 20 days.”
Asked if technical advice of engineers was ignored, he said, “Not really, all the 36 chief engineers and directors…are acting as per the prevailing situation.”
A ban on air conditioners in government offices was yet another curb which was imposed by PSPCL and even offices were closed by 2 pm so as to further reduce the load.
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