Union Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal has written to all state chief ministers urging them to provide relief in electricity charges to the industry which is facing liquidity crunch due to lockdown.
The minister said that the industry has sought exemption of fixed electricity charges for their cold stores and power bills to be based on actual usage.
Badal urged all chief ministers to analyse power tariffs and provide suitable relief to the food processing industry.
“The food processing industry ensures a seamless supply of food to consumers. On the other hand, the livelihood of lakhs of farmers is dependent on the uptake of their produce by the industries,” she said while emphasizing on the importance of this sector in the overall economy.
Due to COVID related restrictions, Badal said, several units had to face extended lockdowns with unsold inventories and mounting fixed cost.
“The industry needs to be supported by the government to tide over this unprecedented crisis,” she said in the letter.
The minister said that cold storage infrastructure is one of the critical components of the food processing industry.
“The cold stores need to run 24 7 to preserve the stored goods. The compressors can not be shut down even when the capacity is not fully utilised.
The movement of perishables to and from cold stores has considerably reduced during the lockdown period and has led to a severe liquidity crunch for the promoters,” the letter said.
Badal mentioned that the industry representatives have requested for exemption from levy of fixed charges during the period of COVID lockdown. They have also demanded that the charges of electricity should be levied on the basis of actual consumption rather than lump-sum charges.
“It is requested that the issue of electricity tariff may be analysed in view of the above facts and suitable relief may be granted to the food processing industry at the earliest,” Badal said in the letter to chief ministers.