June 30, 2021 4:59:48 am
With Gujarat government’s vaccination deadline for commercial and business establishments scheduled to end on Wednesday, Sheetal Dalal is worried about carrying on with his grocery-store operations as he is yet to get vaccinated.
“There has been no official intimation to us from anywhere asking us to get vaccinated. We have no information about the government’s directive about mandatory vaccination. However if authorities come and force us to close down, we will have no option but to close” says Sheetal who operates the store with the help of his brother and a helper in Bopal area of Ahmedabad.
“My brother received his first dose earlier this month. But our helper and I are yet to get vaccinated. We began this store two years ago. We barely managed to survive last year and if the government continues to take such harsh actions, then we will have to shut down permanently and return to our native village in Rajasthan,” he added. So far an estimated 20 percent of the workforce in the industry and organised sector has got vaccinated, while the vaccination among unorganised sector like that of Sheetal is not known. The Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) which represents small traders and businesses in the state says only 20 per cent of the workers among 4,000 of their members have got vaccinated so far.
“There would be an estimated one lakh people working with our direct members across Gujarat. The vaccination drive held so far by the government has been slow and barely 20 per cent of the workforce would have got vaccinated,” says Pathik Patwari, honorary general secretary of GCCI, which on Monday wrote to the chief minister asking a month’s time to get all the workforce vaccinated.
The government has also asked GCCI to bear the cost of the vaccinating their workforce. “We are open to bearing the vaccination cost for our members. But at present, there is a shortage of vaccine and we are not able to procure them even from private hospitals,” Patwari added.
Last week, Gujarat had made first dose of vaccination mandatory for all commercial and business establishments to remain functional after June 30. The deadline was fixed for eight municipal corporations and 10 big cities. The deadline for rest of the state was July 10.
Similar is the case in the Sanand Industrial Association (SIA) that employs 15,000 workers in 200 units just outside Ahmedabad city. “Currently, around 20 per cent of our workforce have got vaccinated. Even after vaccination was made mandatory, many workers have been reluctant to take the vaccine due to fear of death or due to various misinformation about the vaccine. We will need more time to vaccinate our staff members,” said Ajit Shah, president of SIA.
Larger business establishments have been successful in vaccinating their staff. For instance Sankalp Recreation Pvt Ltd has vaccinated all their staff members. “We began vaccinating our staff at the beginning of April. Today was the fourth vaccination camp held at Ramada. We have been conducting these drives with the help of AMC,” said Atul Budhraja, vice-president (operations) of Sankalp.
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