April 9, 2021
The central and state government’s direction to industries to get their employees checked for Covid-19 every fortnight has been met with stiff opposition. The order, industry bodies, say is impractical and not feasible given the lack of proper testing facilities.
Industries in Maharashtra have been allowed to function only if their employees are tested for Covid-19 every fortnight. Workers are allowed to travel to their workplace on weekend curfew provided they carry a negative report with them.
Abhay Bhor, president of the Forum of Small Scale Industries Association, said even if they wanted to comply with the order, there is not enough infrastructure, either private or government, to conduct tests in such large quantities. Bhor said the industrial area of Pimpri-Chinchwad alone had at least 4-5 lakh employees. “We have been asking the government to set up a separate testing and vaccination centre for our area but nothing has happened,” he said.
Given the strain on healthcare infrastructure, workers would have to wait for hours together to get tested and the results would be delayed, industry sources said. “This would hit the productivity of units,” he said.
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Industry sources said that considering the strength of workers in the district, even if a little percentage is found positive, it will create a panic and the current load on hospitals will collapse the system.
The Mahratta Chamber of Commerce Industries and Agriculture (MCCIA) has written to the state government, asking it to reconsider its diretion. Sudhir Mehta, president of MCCIA, said, “Mandatory RTPCR tests every 15 days in Maharashtra for industry, trade and services are completely untenable and without scientific basis. We don’t have the lab capacity and this will delay tests for those with symptoms. For half the cost, we can vaccinate all and so, the focus should be on vaccinating more people and faster. Towards this, MCCIA member companies with on-campus medical facilities have offered their premises as vaccination centres as per other extant government protocols. This will help speed up vaccination and also reduce the burden on already stretched government healthcare infrastructure,” he said.
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