May 3, 2021 9:29:36 pm
SHORTAGE OF vaccines have temporarily shelved plans for a special vaccination drive for the industrial sector of Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad. A long-standing demand from the sector, the industry feels that a special vaccination drive would help in overall control of the spread of Covid-19, especially in the twin township of Pimpri-Chichwad.
Home to about 11,500 small and medium scale units, the sector employs over 4 lakh people. Since the beginning of the vaccination, industries have asked for a special drive for employees. The sector argued that if special vaccination centres were allowed for it, this would help vaccinate a large number of people in a short period of time.
Abhay Bhor, president of Forum of Small Scale Industries, said they had asked the PCMC to identify at least two centres in 22 industrial blocks in the area for vaccination of industrial workers. Bhor said workers were, at present, the mobile population and, thus, needed protection.
“We are getting reports of employees testing positive from every industry. Given that the nature of the work involves close proximity to metal and metal components, workers can be infected easily,” he said.
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Chances of the infection spreading further from then is also high. Sandeep Belsare, president of Pimpri-Chinchwad Small Scale Industries Association, had also written for a special facility. But to date, a dedicated centre for the industry was yet to come up, he said.
Senior officials of the civic body said they had not been able to come up with a dedicated centre given the uncertainty in vaccine supply. “This supply chain constraint has halted our plans to roll out a mobile vaccination van. There were plans of having centres at industrial clusters, but now all have been shelved,” an officer said.
Lockdown and the spread of the infection have started showing up in the industrial landscape of the district. A recent report by Mahratta Chamber of Commerce Industries and Agriculture (MCCIA) showed that production levels have dipped to 69 per cent in April from 83 per cent in March. On an average, the surveyed companies said the number of employees working has decreased from 86 per cent in March to 70 per cent in April.
Commenting on the survey, Prashant Girbane, director general of MCCIA, said the drop was expected. “Given the heightened levels of restrictions, the drop was expected. Glad that the drop is not as bad as it was in April 2020. God forbid, if there is any more continuation of restrictions, it needs to come along with increased level of economic activity and not reduced, as the impact on livelihoods at the bottom of the economic pyramid is unbearable,” he said.
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