Amid strong protests by powerloom owners in Bhiwandi against the recent hike in power tariff,the states power department has apprised Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan of its inability to consider their demand for more subsidies as it would mean an additional burden of Rs 400 crore.
To give subsidies in the revised power tariff,we will have to bear an additional burden of Rs 400 crore,over and above the existing subsidies of Rs 11,000 crore for the sector across the state. There is very little scope for additional subsidies in the current scenario.
Chavan,who had promised to consider the demand by the powerloom sector,has convened a meeting with deputy chief minister and power minister Ajit Pawar next week to find a solution.
Abdul Mannan Siddique,president of Bhiwandi Powerloom Federation,says,On December 19,the chief minister promised to look into our demand for subsidies after which we called off our 12-day strike. We have set December 4 as the deadline for the government to respond. If they fail,we will be forced to shut down the powerlooms.
The revised tariff will wipe us out from the competition against powerlooms in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh where tariff are much lower, he said.
About three months ago,the power tariff was increased from Rs 2.40 per unit to Rs 4.80 per unit.
A power department official said that of the total arrears of Rs 980 crore in the powerloom sector in the state,Bhinwadi alone accounted for Rs 913 crore and so any additional subsidy was not possible.
Siddique,however,claimed these were pre-2007 arrears that were unpaid because the bills were inflated. Bhiawandi,the biggest powerloom hub in the country,is home to an estimated 8 lakh units.