The Verna industrial estate, which is Goa’s pharmaceutical hub and also has a number of other companies, has been facing frequent power failures, causing disruption in their production. Among the worst affected are high tension power users. The units in the Cuncolim industrial estate often faced similar power problems. There have been complaints of poor power supply in other industrial estates too, such as Pilerne, Kundaim and Thivim. The owners of industrial units in Verna say that power is being diverted to Fatorda, Majorda and Vasco, disrupting their supply. They have been demanding dedicated feeder lines and overhaul of the distribution network for long but the government has failed to meet their demand. This contradicts the picture the government has been presenting most of the time – that they have adequate power to meet commercial needs. What is the use of having adequate power if the same is not properly distributed?
The pharmaceutical industry in Goa has a large turnover. Almost all big pharmaceutical brands have their units in Goa, a large number of them in Verna. The units have to comply with national and international standards in everything. They get low markings in regulatory audit from local, national and international safety watchdogs because of sudden stoppages of production owing to power shortage, which could have a bearing on their domestic sales and exports. Frequent power failures have compelled the pharmaceutical and other industries to keep their expansion plans on hold. It is surprising to note that the government did not address the issues in the Cuncolim industrial estate when the Cuncolim Industries Association pleaded that frequent power interruptions and voltage fluctuations were leading to losses in industrial output, deterioration of product quality, increased costs, delay in dispatch, loss of customers and business and damage to equipment. They also pointed out that in July this year alone there were 71 power outages in which 126 hours of production was lost. The complaints from the owners of units in other industrial estates about power interruptions too went unheeded.
Following reports of industrial estates facing power problems in the media, Power Minister Pandurang Madkaikar called representatives of industries to a meeting on Tuesday. It was highlighted at the meeting that the industrial units were facing both power shortage as well as erratic supply. The minister has promised extra feeder lines and sub-stations along with regular maintenance of the distribution and supply network. Let us hope Madkaikar’s promises are not empty and he has enough resources and a clear deadline to boost feeder lines and sub-stations and maintain the distribution satisfactorily. Even if the power department begins the process immediately to augment power supply to the industrial estates it will take at least six months to call for tenders and complete the works. Besides, construction of sub-stations and laying supply network will not be enough to solve the problems of the industries. The government should also make sure where they are going to purchase the additional power from. The minister has to put systems in place, so that the complaints of the industry about interruptions in power supply are quickly attended to by the power department.
The state does not produce power for its needs and has to buy it from different sources. However, adequate availability of power has not been a major problem in Goa. The industry in Goa has a genuine grievance to make: they say the government has been collecting infrastructure taxes from them for providing various services including power but has failed to provide quality power to them. Unlike in some states, industries in Goa do not have captive power plants. Either it does not work out in accordance with their economics or the problems in setting one up are far too many to tackle for an industry. It is a pity that when the state is struggling to create job opportunities for the youth industries might have to shelve their expansion plans owing to poor power supply. Regular quality power is a prerequisite to attracting investment in Goa. Otherwise new industries will locate their production elsewhere. The state government projects a demand for 934 MW in 2018-19. The power department must get adequate power to meet the demand and ensure uninterrupted supply. The quality of distribution is a major problem in power supply to industries. Madkaikar has to see that the plans for additional feeder lines for the Pilerne and Kundaim industrial estates and aerial cables for the Thivim industrial estate are executed with quality and in time.