The suspension of freight trains amid farmers' stir against the Centre's three farm laws has affected coal supply for thermal plants in Punjab. The state is now staring at power shortage. According to reports, all three private thermal power plants have exhausted their coal stock. The suspension freight trains have also hit the state's industrial sector.
Reports said that Talwandi Sabo Power Limited (TSPL) has declared that the plant will suspend power generation as their coal stock was exhausted. The plant had suspended power general a few days ago, but resumed it after receiving five coal rakes.
According to a PTI report, almost all industrial verticals, including bicycle and bicycle parts, textile, hand tools, auto parts, steel, machine tools, among others are facing dearth of raw materials.
Goods train services in Punjab had earlier resumed after farmer unions on October 21 announced exempting them from 'rail roko' agitation. The railways began running goods trains on October 22, but decided to suspend them on October 23 after some farmers blocked their movement, a PTI report said.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has asked Railway Minister Piyush Goyal to intervene to resume the services. In return, Goyal had sought his assurance for safety of trains and crew members to restore freight services.
A senior official of power utility Punjab State Power Corporation Ltd (PSPCL) told PTI that against the demand for 6,000 MW of power, the state is managing 5,000 MW from central hydro and biomass plants, leading to shortage of 1,000 MW. The PSPCL is also buying electricity through power exchange, the official added.
Industry representatives from Punjab said around 10,000 containers for imports and exports have been stuck at various dry ports due to suspension of goods trains.
"Containers are carrying raw material and finished goods which include thread, steel, cycle parts, hand tools and other items worth Rs 6,000 to 7,000 crore," Ludhiana-based industrialist S C Ralhan, who is also a former president of the Federation of Indian Export Organisation, said.
"We have already faced financial loss to the tune of Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,000 crore due to non-operation of goods trains," he said.
Avon Cycles Chairman and Managing Director Onkar Singh Pahwa said the bicycle industry is facing difficulties in procuring raw materials like strips and pipes for making bicycles. "Whatever material we have will soon end," he said.
Pahwa said bicycles which were to be exported to other countries are also stuck in containers, while buyers are asking to honour the commitments. The company is sending containers through trucks to ports for urgent export supplies, he said, adding that it increases the cost.
Ajit Lakra, a garment maker, also echoed similar sentiments saying that any delay in sending goods meant for exports will not only lead to companies losing buyers but will also dent the industry's credibility. Pahwa also expressed concern on shortage of coal, saying if thermal plants stop generating power, the industry will not be able to run its operations.
With PTI Inputs