Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Saturday, Nov 16, 2002
Industry & Economy
TNEB hauled over coals by consumers `Why tax us for your inefficiency?'
MADURAI, Nov. 15
THE Tamil Nadu Electricity Board's (TNEB) proposal for revision of tariffs was vehemently opposed by speakers at a public hearing organised by the State Electricity Regulation Commission here.
The Chairman, Mr A. Balraj, and the two members of the commission, Mr E.C. Arunachalam and Mr S. Thangarathinam, were present.
Without exception, the speakers on Wednesday took TNEB to task, attributing losses to its mal-administration.
Farmers and industrialists pointed out that the figures on subsidy and on various aspects of administration respectively were misconstrued and wrong. The farmers especially pointed out that as long as they were not allowed to fix the price for products, free supply of powers should continue.
The Tamil Nadu Farmers Sangam claimed that the free power supply to them was not a concession, but privilege and that the Government should compensate for the same.
Mr P. Ayyakannu of Bharthiaya Kisan Sangh said that in the absence of perennial rivers in Tamil Nadu, farmers depended on well irrigation. Withdrawal of free power would force farmers to commit suicide.
The former DMK Minister, Mr Pon Muthuramalingam, suggested that the socio-economic conditions of the people should be taken into account, as free power was the only benefit for farmers.
The Uzhavar Uzhaipalar Katchi, in its representation ,observed that farmers had made huge investments expecting long term benefits while installing pump sets and as such free supply of power should continue.
The Five District Periyar Irrigation Farmers Sangam expressed its fear that withdrawal of power would result in greater unemployment and reduce farmlands to wastelands.
The Tamil Nadu Agricultural Electricity Consumers Sangam of Erode, observed that the working of the Commission was biased against agriculturists became evident from the fact that in the recently constituted consultative committee of the Commission, no one from agriculture sector got nominated.
The Tamil Nadu Chamber of Commerce and Industry pleaded that the industrial sector should not be made to shoulder the losses of TNEB.
While welcoming the proposal to charge the agricultural sector, it suggested that if free supply was continued, it should accrue only to genuine farmers and at the same time, its misuse must be prevented.
The Madurai District Tiny and Small Scale Industries Association pleaded that any increase in power tariff would affect the sector adversely.
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