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AP SMEs protest against penalties imposed by power regulator

Hyderabad, Feb 26 (KNN)  FSME- AP, the apex body of small and medium enterprises in Andhra Pradesh has lodged a strong protest with the AP Electricity Regulatory Commission (APERC) against its decision to impose restrictions on power consumption and levy huge 600 per cent penalties for exceeding prescribed limits.
In a letter to APERC, Federation of Small and Medium Enterprises – Andhra Pradesh (FSME- AP) President, FSME-AP, APK Reddy said, “It may be recalled that our SME sector has been struggling for survival due to acute power shortage. Owing to the pathetic condition of power, our production capacity has declined by over 50 per cent in the past four years. This power shortage triggered credit crunch for our small and medium entrepreneurs. 
He said it was unfortunate that APERC which has to come to the rescue and protect the interests of Industrial Consumers, particularly MSME Sector, is causing undue hardships and irreparable losses to Industrial Community by its decisions by way of imposing restrictions on power consumption, as well as levy of 600 per cent penalties for exceeding the prescribed limits during the period of imposition of R&C (restriction and control) measures.
The FSME-AP has been protesting right from the beginning, not only the imposition of disproportionate  penalties but also imposition of restrictions on MSME sector. 
The sector, he elaborated, has had to deal with problems of recession; heavy competition from large scale sector; political uncertainty in the state; steep hike in the power tariff regularly; withdrawal of LT tariff to SSI sector with connected load of 75 HP and above; and financial crunch and stringent rules being adopted by banks in declaring NPAs, etc.
Reddy said that the government is luring and attracting new entrepreneurs with promise of un-interrupted power supply, power incentives, investment subsidies, tax reliefs etc. to set-up new industries at the cost of existing Industries. 
“APERC and DISCOMs should meet the power requirement of existing industries fully and only then allow new industries to come-up, if the generation capacity is surplus,” he said. 
The very imposition of huge penalties for violating power restrictions, according to him, is illegal and should be withdrawn immediately. 
“The best alternate option to educate and seek co-operation from industrial consumers is to offer incentives for limiting their consumption within the restricted quota announced by the Regulatory Commission during the period of power scarcity,” Reddy said.
The Regulatory Commission should have issued stringent Orders on DISCOMs to implement its orders on 50 per cent waiver of penalties announced during August, 2013, pending disposal of review/call back petitions by DISCOMs.  However, taking this advantage, DISCOMs are collecting huge interest from the industrial consumers on outstanding, irrelevant penal charges levied by them.
Therefore, we request that APERC to order for total withdrawal of all penal charges levied so far as a result of imposition of restrictions and controls, in view of the recent judgment by the apex court, Reddy said.