Four days after the state implemented its plan for a graded exit from lockdown’s second phase, Haryana’s industrial units have started slowly returning back to normalcy.
According to the state government, while over 1,800 industries/establishments that are associated with manufacturing of essential commodities or allied activities have resumed functioning, specific permissions to resume operations have already been given to over 250 units. Another 2,300 applications seeking permission are still under process.
Haryana’s Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala who also holds the Industries portfolio, told The Indian Express that the state government is facilitating industries that are coming forward and want to resume their operations in a phased manner.
“If we have to bear lockdown for a long period, it affects our economic condition. The aim is to keep strictly following lockdown regulations, including social distancing and proper sanitisation, and slowly resuming industry operations in a staggered manner. As of now, about 1,800 establishments that are associated with essential commodities are functional. Approximately 106 other establishments approved under the lockdown regulations have been permitted to operate after April 20. About 18,000 workers, who were sitting idle, have now started working in these industrial establishments,” Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar had said on April 23.
Industries department officials, however, told The Indian Express that approximately 250 industries/establishments/factories that are located in government approved Industrial Estates and in rural areas have already been granted approval to resume work.
Rohtak-based Lakshmi Precision Screws Limited, a multinational company that figures among one of the largest exporter of fasteners, is among those that have resumed operations. Rajesh Jain, who owns LPS, said that although exports are severely affected, resumption of operations will help him bring his company’s production slowly back on track and also help over a 1,000 workers employed in his two units.
“We have been maintaining extreme caution about our workers’ health. We are following all the guidelines, regulations prescribed by the government and are taking adequate measures, be it providing gloves, face masks to our workers or regularly sanitising our workplace,” Jain told The Indian Express.
He added that although the production in his industrial unit has begun, but it will take time for him to meet his production targets. “There are manpower issues also. Thus, I had asked my HR team to deploy the workforce in shifts so that our workers can also take care of their families and then whatever numbers of manpower we require, we can also get it,” he said.
The state government has also clarified that in case any worker in any establishment gets infected with coronavirus, the owner will not be held liable for it and will not be prosecuted. “A rumour was being spread that the owners of such establishments will be booked by the police in case their worker turns positive of coronavirus. But, it will not be done and proper procedures shall be followed,” Khattar said.
Rohtak Industries Association president S K Khator said: “About 70-80 per cent of the industry in Rohtak is into auto-parts manufacturing. Approximately 100-110 industrialists have applied seeking permission to resume operations. Out of these 23-24 establishments, including auto parts, soap and chemical factories, hinges manufacturing units etc. have been approved and we hope that the remaining will also be approved in a day or so. As far as the workers are concerned, these industries have dedicated skilled labour and all those workers are in process of getting back to their workplaces.”
In Sonipat district, where industry majorly comprises pharmaceutical units and factories involved in food processing, head of the industries association there, Subhash Gupta, said that several such units were up and running.
“About 460 applications were sent to the district administration seeking permission to resume operations. But unfortunately on April 19, Kundli area was declared a containment zone and all those applications remained pending. Since, majority of our area falls on the border with national capital of Delhi, the industry is severely affected. We hope that things normalise soon and the remaining industry can also function,” he said.
On managing the workforce, Gupta added, “The entire industry cannot seek permission under current circumstances because of certain conditions. One of the major conditions is that workers have to be accommodated within the premises. Many of the industrial units do not have that kind of space. Thus, they are only waiting for the lockdown to end and then only shall be able to resume operations.”
General Secretary of Panipat’s Laghu Udyog Bharti, Bhupinder Sharma, said that “around 100-125 industries/factories in Panipat have resumed operations.” He added: “Primarily, Panipat is known for textile exports, besides spinning mills, power looms and yarn industries. While the major players have resumed operations, the medium and small scale industries are yet to come forward. They were initially scared of the stringent conditions imposed by the government, but after government clarified that the owners of establishments will not be held responsible if the worker tests positive, they are also coming forward now. Hopefully, situation will improve in a few days.”
Power tariff relief
To help industry, the state government had previously announced a discount of up to Rs. 10,000 in the fixed charge for the consumers whose consumption of commercial and industrial connections for a period of two months (March and April) is 50 per cent less than the average of January and February.
However, a senior officer of power department said: “Now, it has been decided that a 25 per cent discount will be given to those consumers whose monthly fix charge is more than Rs 40,000. The remaining 75 per cent amount of fixed charge will be taken in six equal instalments from July to December 2020. This benefit will be given only to those whose consumption is less than 50 per cent of the average of January and February month.”
Hooda seeks package for MSMEs
Former Haryana Chief Minister and Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Friday, demanded that the state government must give a special package to MSMEs and cottage industry failing which around 40 per cent of the industry shall face closure in the state.
“MSME sector is the backbone of the economy and gives huge amount of employment and its collapse would cause massive unemployment. Incomes have reduced to zero due to the lockdown and the revenue of the entire sector has come to a grinding halt. Despite this, the entrepreneur is constantly burdened with his workers’ salary, loan instalments, rent, commercial tax and fixed electricity bill with no support from the government.”
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