Waive fixed power charges for cold chain units during lockdown: Centre

In a move to provide some relief to the cold chain sector, the Centre decided to waive the electricity bill for the proprietors of integrated cold chains that deal in frozen vegetables and processed foods such as cutlets, patties, chicken samosa. The decision came for the proprietors running their units after their collective estimated power bills have shot up to roughly ₹ 1,000 crore despite low sales due to restrictions over Coronavirus global pandemic.

The centre has requested states to waive fixed electricity tariff and charge them on only actual consumption. In a letter to state chief ministers, Union food and processing minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said that Covid-19 related movement curbs had led to unsold inventories in cold chains but proprietors are still paying fixed charges for electricity bills as well as tariff for actual consumption. Cold stores need power 24×7 to preserve stored goods.

The industry representatives have requested for exemption from levy of fixed charges during Covid-19 lockdown. Further, the charges for electricity may be levied on basis of actual consumption rather than lumpsum charges. It is requested the issue of electricity tariffs may be analysed in view of above facts and suitable relief may be granted to food processing industry at the earliest.

At present, 193 out of 297 cold chains in the country are functional but have been facing labour shortages and restrictions on movement of staff. Maharashtra (44), Uttar Pradesh (16), Uttarakhand (16), Gujarat (16) Punjab (14) and Himachal Pradesh (10) are among states that host most of these units, sending more than 20,000 pre-cooling vans and reefer trucks loaded with agricultural, horticultural, dairy, fish and marine, poultry and meat products by linking farms to humidity chambers and multi control-atmospheric (CA) units.

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