The agrarian state of Punjab, often referred to as the ‘food bowl’ of India, has emerged as a frontrunner in the nation’s fight against Covid-19, with 41 manufacturers of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) coveralls based in the state getting clearance from the South India Textiles Research Association (SITRA).
Of the 41 manufacturers cleared for production of PPEs, 18 have orders of more than 25 lakh PPE coveralls worth Rs 256 crore from Hindustan Latex Limited. The orders are at different stages. Some manufacturers have already delivered a major chunk of the orders, others are in the process of manufacture, while the ones given orders recently are setting up manufacturing lines to start production.
The state’s textiles industry, majorly based in Ludhiana, is in the league of big manufacturers from Bangalore, Coimbatore, Tirupur, Mumbai, Surat, Noida and Gurgaon. But it was not a cakewalk manufacturing a new product.
“Punjab is an inspiring story. The industry has done very well and I am sure it will continue in a similar fashion in the future,” Additional Secretary in textiles ministry V K Singh told The Indian Express.
Towards the end of March, the textiles ministry was perplexed to discover that there were only two manufacturers, both Bangalore-based, which had come forward to offer PPE coveralls.
“There were no other manufacturers. Majority samples from Punjab were failing tests. It was a very frustrating experience. But the Punjab manufacturers kept on improving. There were manufacturers whose samples got clearance in the third attempt since the tests are very technical. But now Punjab alone manufactures a sizeable share of PPEs in the country,” said Singh, who used to coordinate to take samples to the SITRA laboratory in Coimbatore for testing.
“Stitching and taping is a very crucial factor in the tests. Punjab manufacturers who improved fabric quality also went on to fulfil high quality stitching and taping requirements…One may consider it a baby step but it is a first step of a very long journey for the Punjab industry,” he added.
Punjab Additional Chief Secretary (Industries and Commerce) Vini Mahajan said, “I see it as a very strong sign of the entrepreneural spirit of the people of Punjab. They were able to understand very quickly what is the requirement of the times for the country and the state. They pulled out all stops to understand how to deliver and did it successfully.”
Textiles industry upbeat
Ludhiana-based Shingora Textiles Limited’s Managing Director Amit Jain, “It is a seat belt moment for personal protection. Like people wear seat belts in the car, PPEs will also become an integral part.”
He further said, “There is going to be a worldwide need for PPEs. China was world leader. India I can say is now at no. 2, only in a month’s time. The government has done a tremendous job.”
Ludhiana-based Garg Acrylics General Manager Anish Bansal said that prior to manufacturing PPEs, they were primarily into manufacturing T-shirts and sweaters. An initial order of 50,000 pieces has already been delivered. “It took us 10 days to deliver that order and we have another order of 1.75 lakh pieces,” he added.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines