Kochi | Kerala seafood exporters today alleged harassment by state electricity board and its Anti Power Theft Squad (APTS) after some of its members were penalised for ‘power theft’.
Addressing a press conference here, office-bearers of the Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI) said the issue was one of categorisation (of the consumers), and not theft.
They alleged that the APTS was conducting inspections indiscriminately and issuing huge penal assessment treating major seafood processing units as cold storages or freezing plants though they fall under the non-commercial High Tension I category.
Cold storages and freezing plants fall under HT IV category, which is commercial, and in such cases the power tariff is higher than the tariff stipulated for the industrial purposes.
There is already a ruling by Kerala State Electricity Regulatory Commission that seafood processing units fall under category HT 1. Seafood has not been converted into HT IV. As per the order of the Regulatory Commission, in an order in 2009, Seafood processing units are in HT 1 category, Kerala regional president of SCAI Nobert Karikkassery said. He said if KSEB or APTS had any issues on this matter, they should get a clarification from KSERC and not make penal assessments on the consumer and brand him as a thief which was totally uncalled for and is viewed as an attempt to get publicity.
Questioning the change of category by the squad, SCAI national President A J Tharakan said this had to be reined in and warned If they are going to take such measures, nothing will come up in Kerala. In Kerala, there will be zero development as we are the single largest industry in Kerala today–the largest employer, he said.
The exporters are up in arms after the APTS following a recent inspection at a seafood processing unit in Kollam imposed Rs 1.37 crore penalty alleging it was unauthorisedly using electricity. The SEAI strongly condemn the illegal actions of KSEB and APTS. Appropriate legal recourse will be taken against KSEB and APTS officers, they said.
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