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Rs 1,500 crore loss due to ten-day shutdown in Bhiwandi
Upset by govt's indecision mill owners extend shutdown by four more days, announce paidal-march to Mantralay
Saturday November 16, 2013 7:18 PM, Ather Shazan, ummid.com

Ten days of strike against the electricity tariff by the powerloom weavers in Bhiwandi – some 60 kms from the state capital, has incurred a whopping loss of more than 1,500 crore rupees to the local textile industry, local MLA Abdul Rashid Tahir Momin claimed on Saturday.

Upset by the government, which is yet to take a note of the ten days of strike, the powerloom associations have extended the shutdown by four more days. They have also announced a paidal-march from Bhiwandi to Mantralay – the state secretariat in Mumbai, on Wednesday, November 20 – the day when the cabinet is expected to meet for its routine weekly meeting.

"Along with the paidal-march, there will be a total bandh in Bhiwandi on November 20. We have also received calls from people from other textile clusters of the state who are joining us in the paidal-march", Rashid Tahir Momin said while talking to ummid.com.

Giving details of the losses, the Samajwadi Party legislator, who himself is a weaver, said, "About 70% of the total powerlooms in Maharashtra and 30% of the total in India are operational in Bhiwandi alone. Due to the ten days of shutdown, the local textile industry has incurred a total loss of 1,000 crore rupees averaging 100 crore rupees of losses per day."

"Combined with this, the process houses located in Dombiwali and neighbouring towns, and other trades that depend on the textile industry also incurred losses due to the bandh which is estimated at another 500 crore rupees", he added.

If added with the losses incurring due to the strikes at other textile clusters of the state, this amount could easily go up to more than 2,000 crore rupees.

"Despite the huge losses and sufferings of over 2.8 million people who are associated with the textile industry throughout the state, the government is yet to show the required seriousness in resolving the issue", he moaned while pointing at the government's indifference towards such a huge industrial sector.

Protesting against the hike in electricity tariff announced by Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) from September, more than 1.1 million powerlooms in the state are non-operational. While Bhiwandi began ten-day shutdown from November 06, Ichalkaranji and Malegaon along with other centres began the strike from November 07 and November 12 respectively.

"I am continuously appealing to the government. On November 08, I had a detailed conversation with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and briefed him about the prevalent situation. However, except for suggesting me to wait for few days, he did not commit anything concrete", Rashid Tahir Momin said.

He also expressed surprise over the agenda of the meeting Textile Minister Arif Naseem Khan had held last week.

"The meeting was supposed to discuss the electricity tariff which is killing the already under recession textile industry. However, the textile minister did not talk about it and instead kept his focus on other issues", he said.

India has a total of 2.2 powerlooms spread in different states, but about 50% of them are in Maharashtra. The textile industry is regarded as second most important industrial sector after agriculture industry employing a huge local population. People from other states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Assam have also migrated to Maharashtra to work in powerloom units.

The industry however is under pressure since about a year due to the economic slowdown. The hike in the power tariff by MERC in September only added to this burden. Mill owners claim that the power tariff in Maharashtra is already on the higher side if compared with other states. The recent hike has made it literally unaffordable and impossible for them to compete with other states, they claim.

[Photo Caption: Hundreds of powerloom weavers on November 13, 2013 had courted arrest in Malegaon protesting against power tariff hike.]



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