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.
“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
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
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.