The announcement of a 10-day lockdown in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad has taken industrial belts, which have just started reporting some traction in their business, by surprise. Industrial associations have urged the state administration to keep their operations out of the lockdown.
In view of the rapid growth of Covid-19 cases in Pune and Pimpri- Chinchwad, the state government has decided to go for a 10-day strict lockdown in the area. Some rural pockets of the district will also be placed under lockdown to break the chain of infection, which has seen city hospitals reporting shortage of beds. Pimpri-Chinchwad, which was relatively better off in terms of spread of the infection, has seen a large number of cases cropping up in a short time during the various periods of the lifting of the lockdown.
The announcement of the lockdown has caused great constrain in the industrial heartland, which has just started reporting some business after the prolonged lockdown of almost three months. Many, especially in the micro, small and medium (MSME) sector, have pointed out that another lockdown will end all prospects of their recovery this fiscal. “If we are not allowed to do business, the government should not expect us to be punctual about paying salaries or retaining our staff,” said some unit owners.
The MSME sector had complained of their labour leaving the state during the lockdown, as well as business drying up due to demand destruction in the period. Liquidity troubles were also high on their list, as companies they supply had defaulted in payment during the lockdown. The un-lockdown period had seen the sector slowly but steadily restart its operations in a calibrated way. Sandeep Belsare, president of Pimpri-Chinchwad Small and Medium Scale Industries Association, said they take care that their workers are brought in the units in a safe way. “We follow all norms set up the government during our operations – there should be no cause of concern from our end,” he said.
Belsare said industries are now operating with just 50 per cent of their capacity, but steady operations have seen workers who left for their home state making preparations to come back. “But if such arbitrary decisions are taken, it will be detrimental for the sector,” he said.
Similarly Prashant Girbane, director general of Mahratta Chamber of Commerce Industries and Agriculture (MCCIA) hoped that no new steps are taken which disrupt the unlocking of industries and supply chains. “Livelihoods are just about rebuilding. It will be very costly intervention for our economy in general, and for those depending on these livelihoods specifically. Of course, industries have additional responsibilities of health and safety of their workers and thereby reducing the burden on the government system to that extent. MCCIA will be very happy to work with the administration to build and support systems that improve the ease of running business,” he said.
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