State's seafood exporters protest against power cut

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Mumbai, Aug 6 (UNI) The state's Rs 1,500 crore fishing industry could be heading for rough weather due to power cuts imposed by the Mahrashtra State Electric Distribution Company Ltd (MSRDCL), that is adversly affecting the catches in cold storages, warned the Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI) here today.

Protesting the powercuts, the Maharashtra body of SEAI, led by president Gul Kriplani, said the livelihood of 1,50,000 fishermen hung in balance as the quality of seafood exported around the world was being seriously compromised by regular 40-hour powercuts.

''Ours is a continuous process industry and we deal in perishable goods and fluctuations of two-four deg can destroy the goods worth Rs 200 crore presently in cold storages'', the complaints and efforts to communicate with the SEAI were ignored and was time for the government to step in.

''Maharashtra's contribution of Rs 1,500 crore is substantial in the country's Rs 8,000 crore seafood export industry and our request round the clock power is not unreasonable'', said Kriplani.

Elaborating, Kriplani said that it took 24-28 hours to manufacture ice for the storage, and with powercuts lasting 40 hours, even the ice which had formed would melt. Generators were also not economically feasible in providing power for such lenght of time.

SEAI fears that with the onset of the fishing season from August 15 till November, irregular supply of power would diminish profits and wreck havoc among the fishing community and industry as foreign markets like the EU were very strict about the quality of its import of seafood from India. A major part of the India's seafood is exported to the European market from October to coincide with the Christmas season in Europe, which starts from December.

'' With proper support from the government, we can increase our exports to Rs 1,000 crore by 2010 and Rs 1,500 crore by 2015'', said Kriplani.'' UNI ZC ZA SKB RK1908

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