Apr 11, 2013, 01.57 PM IST
Strongly opposing the 9.06 per cent hike in power tariff, the industrial sector in Punjab today said the increase in energy rates would raise the input cost of large and heavy industry, in particular, and render it "uncompetitive" vis-a-vis other states.
Reacting to the hike, secondary steel makers today raised ingot (raw material for iron and steel items) prices by Rs 500 to Rs 33,100 a tonne. "Increase in power tariff will be counter-productive for the Punjab industry as it will have to bear the additional burden particularly in the ongoing sluggish phase.
It will also force the industry to think twice before making new investments in the wake of high power cost," a Ludhiana-based handtool maker said. Industrial items being produced in Punjab would turn uncompetitive as power cost in the state is costlier as compared to many states, an industry representative said. Power turned costlier in Punjab with power regulator Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) today announcing average hike of 9.06 per cent in power tariff across all categories for 2013-14.
Maximum hike in power tariff was made in the category of industry as the Commission raised tariff by up to 12.83 per cent for small, medium and large supply industries. Farm sector was largely spared from big increase in tariff as electricity rates for Agricultural Pumpsets (AP) category was raised by only 1.67 per cent. "The state government is only concerned about farmers as free power is being doled out to them at the cost of state's resources while nothing is being done to promote industry.
This way the government is acting unfairly," said Induction Furnace owner K K Garg. He said 70 per cent of input cost of steel makers constitutes power expenses. Punjab produces 10,000 tonne of steel per day from about 300 furnace and rolling mills. "Now cost of industrial items like cycle parts, auto parts, light engineering goods will go up because of increase in ingot prices," Garg said.
However, industry supported the introduction of Time of Day tariff for large supply industrial category, whereby a rebate of Rs 1 per unit on normal tariff would be given to the industry for consuming power during off peak hours. Meanwhile, former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today flayed hike in power tariff and sought its immediate withdrawal saying that it would upset the economy of common people across the state.
Singh, in a statement, said the government had no moral right to increase the tariff as it had not been able to provide adequate power to the consumers much against its claims of being power surplus. He claimed the Akali-BJP during its 6-year regime has undertaken cumulative increase in power tariff of 79 per cent, while during the Congress regime between 2002 and 2007 the total hike in power tariff was only 22 per cent.
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