Owners have started reopening some of the factories in non-containment zones in an aim to arrest the migration of labourers and save the textile industry.
On Thursday, some of the powerloom factories in Pandesara opened, while the dyeing and printing mill association announced that they would start their mills from May 25 onwards. The textile traders are also hopeful that the Surat Municipal Corporation will allow them to open shops in red zones.
On Thursday, around 20 per cent of powerloom factories in Pandesara started operations. A couple of days ago, some of the factories in Olpad Sayan, Diamond Nagar in Laskana and Sachin GIDC had started functioning.
Pandesara weavers’ association president Ashish Gujarati said, “We are running our factories with whatever stock we have. When labourers see that the factories are up and running, they will come back to work. We don’t want the industry to lose its momentum.”
Akhilesh Dubey, a migrant worker staying in Ganeshnagar of Pandesara, said, “If the mill starts, I will definitely go back to work. I stay here in Surat with my wife and two children. We have not got April and May’s salary. My monthly salary is Rs 22,000. Once factories reopen, I can go back to work and get the money. My children are studying here in secondary schools. If we go back to our native place, we have to stay 14 days in quarantine and then we will be able to meet our relatives. It will again take three more months to come back to Surat. So, it is better to stay here and wait for the right time.”
On Thursday, the South Gujarat Textile Procession Association (SGTPA) called a meeting of its members to decide the future course of action.
SGTPA president Jitubhai Vakharia said, “Most of our dyeing and printing mills in Surat fall in non-containment zones, so there is nothing to worry. We have applied for permission from the district administration to start the units. The powerloom factories are slowly starting operations so why not our units? There would be a shortage of labourers as in a single dyeing and printing unit, 650 labourers are required to run it for 24 hours. But seeing the present situation, we will run the factories with whatever labourers are available. We will reduce the productions by running a single machine. There is no issue of social distancing in dyeing and printing mills as the areas is big and people work keeping distance. We have been asked by the health officials to get thermal guns. We are ready to follow all the norms of Covid-19.”
“If we don’t start the factories now, it will be difficult to do in the coming days as we will face a labour shortage. Once the labourers leave, they will return after two to three months. For two months the businesses are already shut, and if we have to continue for another three more months, it will be difficult for us,” he added.
Federation of Surat Textile Traders’ Association president Manoj Agrawal said, “If the powerloom and dyeing printing factory start, they will also need help from us for fabrics. Over 85 per cent of the markets lie in the containment zones. We hope that in coming days the SMC will give us permission to open shops.”
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