Amid indications of a possible extension of the lockdown beyond April 14, the government is considering allowing the operation of factories that are less labour-intensive, it is learnt. COVID-19 LIVE updates
Sources said the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, which is in the process of drafting a staggered lockdown exit strategy for industries, is considering allowing factories to open on the basis of certain parameters. According to sources, the ministry may first allow operation of factories that are less labour-intensive, and where most of the work is done by robotic arms and there are few workers on the floor. Medium labour-intensive sectors such as chemical factories may also be allowed to open.
Highly labour-intensive sectors like small garment factories may not be allowed to open as of now, the sources said, adding that a few may be allowed on case-to-case basis. It was also learnt that food-processing industries can be allowed to operate. The Centre has allowed agricultural activities, and farmers will find it difficult to sell their produce if food processing industries cannot run.
As of now, preference will be given to low labour-intensive factories. Highly labour-intensive factories will be considered later, said sources.
This comes days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about a “common exit strategy” to ensure staggered re-emergence of the population after April 14 and asked states to send suggestions for the “exit strategy”.
During an interaction with central ministers Monday, Modi had said, “The ministries should prepare a Business Continuity Plan.” “He noted that a graded plan to slowly open departments where hotspots aren’t existing should be made, adding that the crisis offers an opportunity to become self-dependent in the medical sector,” said an official statement.
“Highlighting the impact on India’s exports, he asked the ministers to submit actionable suggestions on boosting manufacturing and exports and ensure that new sectors and countries are added in India’s export net,” it added.
On March 30, exporters had demanded that India allow the export of certain products. During an interaction with Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, exporters said that if India does not begin shipments at this juncture, its export market would be taken over by Chinese products.
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They cited the example of certain pharmaceuticals exports which have been banned in the wake of the pandemic.
Giving relief to domestic pharma companies, the Centre has lifted restrictions on exports of 24 active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and their formulations.
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