Post-festival gloom: E-way bills, power demand, railway freight down

New Delhi: E-way bill generation slowed in the first three weeks of November, power demand moderated and railway freight loading declined, suggesting a post-festive season moderation in economic activity. Economists said this was expected, although the increase in Covid-19 cases and renewed restrictions posed risks to recovery.

As on November 22, 40.7 million e-way bills were generated in the month, suggesting that the total for the month may fall well short of the record high of 64 million in October or even 57 million in September, as per the data trend from the Goods and Services Tax Network.

Electricity demand dropped to 3,192 million units on November 22, lower than 3,290 million units a year ago. Freight loading by Indian railways was 5% lower by volume and 0.3% by value in the week ended November 21. At about 1.8 million, the daily average e-bill generation in November was lower than 2 million recorded in October.

E–way bills, an indicator of goods movement and economic activity, are required for transportation of goods more than Rs 50,000 in value and are generated for both interstate and intra-state transportation.

Peak festive season and higher number of holidays may have contributed to lower e-way generation, according to experts. Economists were, however, divided on whether the data indicated faltering recovery.

“The subsequent month-onmonth dip seems to be on account of likely satiation of pent-up demand… we remain circumspect about the durability of the spikes being seen in the various sectors after October,” said Aditi Nayar, principal economist at ICRA.

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