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Thursday, April 15, 2021

Anxiety at industrial areas: Will night curfew turn into lockdown?

The newly imposed night curfew in light of the rapidly growing Covid cases has led to fears of another set of disruptions, though the government has said they aren’t planning a lockdown at present.

Written by Sukrita Baruah | New Delhi |
Updated: April 8, 2021 7:21:34 am
Anxiety at industrial areas: Will night curfew turn into lockdown?At Lajpat Nagar market on Wednesday. (Express photo by Praveen Khanna)

The night curfew imposed in Delhi has led to anxiety and uncertainty in industrial areas, with several industry associations writing to their local administration asking whether they can conduct work within their premises at night.

The national lockdown of last year and continuing disruptions led to losses that manufacturing units across the city are yet to recover from, with many shrinking or shutting down. The newly imposed night curfew in light of the rapidly growing Covid cases has led to fears of another set of disruptions, though the government has said they aren’t planning a lockdown at present.

In industrial areas in the city’s Northwestern belt, factory owners say even after the national lockdown, business was further disrupted over the last few months because of farmers’ highway blockade at Singhu border.

“For the last year, we are always waiting for some good news to come our way but it never does. Manufacturing units in this area haven’t picked up since the first lockdown,” said Ajay Garg, general secretary of Narela Industrial Complex Welfare Association.

“We have sent queries to our sub-divisional magistrate asking if the units may operate at night within their premises, without worker movement outside. From the reading of the provisions of the night curfew, it looks like loading and unloading work cannot take place at night, which is when it usually happens due to entry of heavy vehicles to the city being allowed then. A disruption in that would mean changing the schedule and an increased transport cost to be borne by us. In any case, the shifts will have to be adjusted and shortened to enable workers to get home in time,” he said.

In Mayapuri, Neeraj Sehgal has also written to the SDM asking for leeway for round the clock work in industrial areas.

“All work here is a combination of day and night. Loading and unloading takes place at night. Units for things such as ice-cream making and those requiring furnaces operate round the clock,” he said.

Sehgal, general secretary of Mayapuri Industrial Welfare Association, also said that panic has set in among the workforce.

“The labourers, most of whom are migrants, are panicking since they’re scared after what happened last time. Many of them have said that they want to leave before the trains stop. What was the issue with giving some advance warning?” he said.

Rajesh Kumar, general secretary of Indian Federation of Trade Unions, also spoke of similar anxieties.

“Many workers I have spoken to say they are thinking of leaving the city after getting this month’s salary. They have heard how restrictionshave increased in Maharashtra… Plus given the police crackdown, they are also worried about their safety,” he said.

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