Nearly two weeks after the government began allowing resumption of services, industries in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad are hampered more by liquidity problems than labour shortage.
Since businesses had ground to a halt when the nationwide lockdown was imposed in March, many micro, small and medium scale (MSME) industries face severe shortage of liquid capital.
In Pune district alone, at least two lakh labourers had left for their home states and districts during the lockdown. While some have started returning, industries lack the funds to restart operations or pay labourers because orders remain sluggish.
Sandeep Belsare, president of the Pimpri-Chinchwad MSME Association, said, “Labourers who live outside Maharashtra are yet to return. Most of the labourers from neighbouring districts have started reporting to work,” he said.
Majority of the labourers who left Pune district for other parts of the state were employed as skilled or semi-skilled labourers in units.
Sadashiv Survase, Joint Director of the state Directorate of Industries, said at least 2,000 labourers who reside outside Maharashtra have returned to Pune since train services resumed. Most of the labourers who left the state are semi-skilled or unskilled, Survase said. “Once transport links are restored, more labourers will return,” he said.
However, at present, the sector requires easy liquidity to pay workers and restart operations, industry leaders said. The continuing lockdown in Mumbai has also hampered smooth movement of raw materials, industry leaders said.
Meanwhile, Belsare and the Pimpri-Chinchwad MSME Association have asked for deferment of payment of electricity dues for a period of six months. In a memorandum to the Chief Minister, Belsare said MSMEs are unable to raise funds to restart operations. “In this period, we should be given some concession to pay our electricity bills in the second half of the fiscal without any fines or compounding interest,” the Association said.
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