The narrow bylanes of Guru Nanak Nagar in Jalandhar’s Basti area leads you to a small house where Anurag Salaria runs his single-room badminton shuttle manufacturing unit. Feathers and other raw material at one corner of the room and three machines on the other, the room witnessed production of around 60 dozen shuttles daily before the lockdown.
While Salaria is ready to manufacture again, he says that there is almost zero demand.
“There is no raw material available in the market and no demand as people have other basic needs to worry about first,” said Salaria, adding that earlier every nook and corner of his house was used to stock hen-feathers that he procured from Andhra Pradesh for making shuttles.
He said: “I have 7-8 local workers to make shuttles, but all are sitting idle at their respective homes.”
Like Salaria’s micro factory, there were hundreds of small shuttle manufacturers in this locality. In nearby Basti Nau, which is the hub of small and medium manufacturers of sports goods in Jalandhar, the scenes are similar. Small manufacturers of leather cricket balls, tennis balls, rubber balls, bats, rackets, and footballs, have been sitting idle. Most units here run from small homes or from small dilapidated factories.
“We used to make 40-45 leather cricket balls daily earlier but now neither do we have the raw material nor money to purchase it,” said Ashwini Kumar, adding that skilled labour for this work comes from UP and Bihar and now they have started returning to their homes.
In the same locality, Ravinder Dheer, a manufacturer of rubber sports, skaters, bats and sportswear, too has no raw material or handy cash to buy it.
All these small and medium manufacturers are the part of one of the biggest sports goods industrial hub in the country.
Jalandhar’s sports industry, which is worth Rs 1,700 crore, including Rs 400 crore export and Rs 1,300 crore domestic supply, provides employment to around 60,000 to 70,000 people.
But they now fear a shutdown due to the lockdown despite being allowed to start manufacturing.
Dheer, who is also the convener of the Khel Udhyog Sangh Sangharash Committee, Jalandhar, said: “Small and medium manufacturers of sports goods are the backbone of the sports industry where their contribution is worth Rs 900 crores. They are heading towards ‘talabandi’.” He added that earlier he had 65 workers, but was now left with 18.
“Small manufacturers of Jalandhar’s sports industry, which caters to more than 50 per cent demand of sports goods in the country, tour across the country to sell their goods and they are the real heroes of our industry,” he said, adding that they will not recover losses for several years.
About the boost for MSMEs by the Centre, he said: “It is a joke.”
Rakesh Kumar, a bat making artisan with Dheer, said that during the lockdown when there was no work, he started selling vegetables on a pushcart. Kumar had been making cricket bats for the past 25 years.
Bheero Devi, who stitches footballs, said, “My entire family stitches football to earn their living. But now we are getting no work.”
Salaria said that even if he gets orders, he cannot cut down labour because a single shuttle passes through the hands of around 8-9 workers. “Missing of a single person in the assembly line makes it halt,” he said, adding, “I don’t know how I will survive now and what would be the demand for my product during this crisis.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines