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Feb 12, 2013 at 09:25am IST

Budget yatra: Industry in Coimbatore hit by power crisis in Tamil Nadu

Coimbatore: In the run up to the Budget Session CNN-IBN's Budget yatra travels to Coimbatore, which is hailed for its industrial growth. But with India's growth numbers dipping drastically in the past few years, has Coimbatore been affected?

Coimbatore is one of the fastest growing cities in India. Known for its industry, textile mills, foundries and pump manufacturers dot the district, the growth has been fast till recently when the worst power crisis hit the state. Also known as the Manchester of the south, industrialists don't want it go the Manchester way.

It's not just big industry that's hard hit. K Shree Babu ran a cottage industry employing four people, earning over Rs 1 lakh per month. Unreliable power forced it to shut down and today, he works for someone else.

CNN-IBN spoke to J James of the Tamil Nadu Association of Cottage and Micro Industries. He said nearly 10,000 units have shut down.

At the Mahendra Pumps plant, production is down, in fact output in the industrial belt has fallen 30 per cent. Many companies have moved their sourcing to other cities in the north. Coimbatore, which used to produce every second pump used in India, has lost 6 to 7 per cent of its marketshare.

Shiva Textyarn is one of the largest textile mills in Coimbatore with a capacity of 50,000 spindles. Executive director KS Sundararaman, a second generation entrepreneur, has invested heavily in technology to keep his plant competitive. But crippling power cuts, lasting over 14 hours, have rendered the technology obsolete. Tamil Nadu is 4,000 MW short of power and it will go up by another 1,500 MW as summer approaches.

"Absolutely when we envisage the whole thing, we thought that 70 per cent of power woes will be met by our wind farms, but the TN electricity board has a problem in evacuation of power and giving us in the right time and they also have a policy that during peak power crisis they don't allow us to take credit for the power generated by our own unit. So what happens is though I have just 70 per cent of my load end of the year at least for this 1 unit I'll be billing around 50 lakh units of power at a low rate of Rs 2.75 to the government and I lose money, the wind mills haven't helped me," Sundararaman said.

Industry is demanding lower interest loans to tide over the crisis, as well as restructuring of existing loans.

The industry is demanding lower interest loans to tide over the crisis. Request for restructuring existing loans has already been made. Despite the challenges, entrepreneurs are optimistic about the future and they plan to continue innovating and seek newer avenues for growth.

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