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Powerloom weavers burn electricity bills, protest over tariff hike intensifies

Wednesday November 21, 2012 12:12:11 PM, Staff Reporter



Malegaon: Demanding immediate rollback of the recent electricity tariff hike, hundreds of powerloom weavers  on Tuesday gathered at Mushawerat Chowk at 12:00 noon and burned the electricity bills in protest against the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MMERC).

The anger over the electricity tariff hike was so rife that a huge crowd began gathering at the city’s historic Mushawerat Chowk since 10 in the morning - well before the scheduled time of protest, and the weavers coming in small groups continued to set on fire the electricity bills past 01:00 in the afternoon.


Protest against MERC

“The protest which began from Malegaon has spread to other parts of the state. The demands from Malegaon have become the demand of the entire state. Delaying a decision on the matter means pushing the state into an ‘industrial catastrophe’”, warned local MLA Mufti Mohd Ismael.

The protest was earlier announced to be held in front of Shahidon Ki Yadgaar – a memorial built by the civic body to commemorate the local freedom fighters, who died in 1921 uprising. It however was shifted in the last minute to Mushawerat Chowk after the police declined to give permission for the proposed venue.


The protest was called by the Powerloom Federation of Maharashtra – a state level umbrella organisation of over 100 NGOs working for the powerloom weavers and textile industry. Accepting to the call given by the federation, protests against the tariff hike were held in Akola, Sangli, Dhule, Yeola, Ichalkiranji, Sholapur, Veeta and other textile centeres of the state.


In Malegaon, activists of over a dozen local organisations including Malegaon Industries’ & Manufacturers’ Association (MIMA), Powerloom Udyog Samiti, Ansari Momin Julaha Conference, Taluka Malegaon Powerloom Sangharsh Samiti, Powerloom Bun’kar Association and Powerloom Action Committee who were led by local MLA Mufti Mohd Ismael participated in the protest and demanded immediate roll back of the tariff hike.

Mufti Ismael said that the Chief Minister had on October 31 promised that a decision to revise the tariff hike would be taken within few days. But, he alleged, a decision was pending due to the internal feud between the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) - the two alliance partners in the state government.


“Beleiving on the Chief Minister’s promise, we expected that a decision on the matter would be taken in the cabinet meeting scheduled for November 07. But more than 15 days after the CM's promise, we are still waiting. It is learnt that internal feud between the Congress and NCP is stopping the Chief Minister from taking any decision”, he said.


The weavers in Maharashtra are supplied electricity on subsidised rates and the government had fixed a tariff of Rs. 1.95 per/unit till March 2012. But the MERC in August this year unilaterally took a decision to hike tariff to Rs. 3.45 per/unit, said Mufti Ismael.

He alleged that due to the delay, the weavers, who are already battling recession and market slowdown since a year, were incurring a huge loss.


Besides protesting against power tariff hike, the weavers in Malegaon are up in arms against the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Co Ltd (MSEDCL) since August demanding regular power sully in the city and improved electricity infrastructure. They have stopped paying electricity bills since then.


“The protest which started from Malegaon has spread to other parts of the state. The demands from Malegaon have become the demand of the entire state. Delaying a decision on the matter means pushing the state into an ‘industrial catastrophe’”, Mufti Ismael warned.











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