Mumbai : A delegation of steel manufacturers from Wada under the leadership of Industries Minister Subhash Desai met Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao at Raj Bhavan on Wednesday to seek reduction in power tariff for their industries.
The minister also urged the governor to bring all backward areas of Maharashtra within the scope of the committee constituted by the state government to reduce power tariff for industrial units in Vidarbha and Marathwada to promote industrial development in those regions.
The delegation told the governor that over 450 industrial units in Wada support over a lakh of tribal population through direct or indirect employment, and urged him to help the steel industry by reducing the power tariff.
Dinesh Mehta, president of Wada induction Furnace Association, told FPJ after the meeting that almost 60% steel units from Wada have closed down due to heavy power tariffs.
“Electricity constitutes 70% of the raw material cost in steel manufacturing. Due to non-availability of high voltage and poor infrastructure in Wada, the cost of power per unit is higher than per unit cost in Vidarbha and Marathwada. Over and above this, electricity duty of 9.3% is levied. So we want the electricity cost reduced,” Mehta said.
“We had approached the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) over the issue. They told us that electricity charges can’t be changed based on geographical location. So, we approached guardian minister Vishnu Savra.
“He guided us to Mr Desai, who led us to the governor as the committee for Vidarbha and Marathwada was constituted by power minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule after the governor directed him to do,” Mehta added.
Mehta also said that the steel industry in Wada generates around Rs 350 crore of sales tax for the state and pointed out that Wada faces ‘tremendous competition’ from Daman, Silvassa and Gujarat which offer lower electricity tariffs. He also said if power tariff is not reduced, all the industrial units will have to be shut down.
The Governor assured the delegation that he will look into the matter.
Nationalist Congress Party spokesperson Nawab Malik, however, has reacted sharply over the issue.
“The council of ministers has all the powers. It is unprecedented that the minister led a delegation of industrialists to the governor to seek sops and prevent industries from leaving the state. This shows the incompetence of the government. Industries minister should resign immediately,” Malik said.