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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Pimpri-Chinchwad industries grapple with exodus of Covid-19 infection among workers

The state government’s orders had allowed industries to work but had put the stress on units associated with essential services and those associated with exports.

Written by Parthasarathi Biswas | Pune |
Updated: April 17, 2021 4:11:45 pm
At Pune railway station on Sunday evening. Amid rising Covid cases and fears of another lockdown in Maharashtra, migrants have been gathering at railway stations in an attempt to return home. (Express Photo: Ashish Kale)

Small and medium scale industries in the industrial town of Pimpri Chinchwad are battling the double whammy of exodus of workers and spread of infection among its employees. With orders getting delayed, most industries now fear another cycle of financial trouble as their payments get stuck.

Maharashtra government’s decision to go for a 15-day strict lockdown has seen workers leaving for their home states. In the initial days, the matter was compounded due to lack of clarity in regards to operations and the ever-growing number of COVID-19 infection had added fuel to the fire. Abhay Bhor, president of Forum of Small Scale Industries, said around 20-25 per cent of the workers had left Pune. “This also includes workers from Maharashtra, who left fearing an extended closure,” he said.

The state government’s orders had allowed industries to work but had put the stress on units associated with essential services and those associated with exports. The government had asked units to house their employees or make arrangement for their transport to and fro from their homes. The workers were asked to carry a negative Covid report and the industries were asked to get their employees tested every 15 days.

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Once industries started testing their workers, there were incidents of workers testing positive. “Thus the machinists who tested positive would have to be given leave for 15 days and the work is affected,” he said. Industries, he said had a good pipeline but now this has put brakes on their order completion. Delay in order completion, he said, would affect the payment of the industries. “While order completion would be delayed, the industries do not have any other option but to service their loans on time,” he said. The state government, he said, has requested for deferment of loans but the central government is yet to come up with any concrete steps about this.

The forum has decided to hold a testing camp for workers next week to help the industries.

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