“Entrepreneurs borrowed money to buy CNC machines. But nobody can run a unit without regular electricity supply. Banks refused to lend money a second time and mounting losses, from irregular power supply, forced many to go to moneylenders. The moneylenders too want their money back. Borrowers are absconding now. The larger problem remains unsolved,” said J. James, Coimbatore district president, Tamil Nadu Association of Cottage and Micro Enterprises.
Power outages in state capital Chennai last for about two hours a day, James said. Elsewhere in the state, 14-hour blackouts each day, for several months now, are the norm, according to news reports.
“There were 40,000 cottage and micro industrial units in Coimbatore four years ago. 10,000 have been sold and some 10-15 units shut shop every day," said James. "10 lakh people are employed by the micro industries sector in Coimbatore. Nobody knows what their future will be like.”
The state must purchase power from privately-run thermal power plants, James said.
Several large industries have captive gensets that could generate about 3,000 MW of electricity. "They are asking for diesel subsidy in order to generate electricty to run their plants. Power from the grid can be given to small industrial units."
"The government is adamant. It is not looking at diesel subsidies."
The Tamil Nadu government promised to provide micro to midsize units with four hours of electricity every day. But in Coimbatore, a majority of all tiny industries are located within residential zones and therefore will not benefit from the government scheme, James said.
“Children studying for exams suffer too. Everybody’s suffering. People now want answers,” James said.