With economic activity set to resume in some districts of Maharashtra with certain pre-conditions starting Monday, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday reiterated the need for people to adhere to the rules of the lockdown. Thackeray also said that barring exceptions district borders will continue to remain sealed.
The Centre on Sunday allowed movement of migrant labourers to commence from Monday within the confines of state. Maharashtra on Monday will take up for discussion the modalities that need to be in place to ensure the smooth inter-district flow of migrant labourers. The state will also discuss if this movement should be capped to one time or multiple entry and exits.
Thackeray said that the government has created red, orange and green zones. The red zone will cover areas where patients are increasing and the orange zone means there are patients but numbers are not rising. The green zone is in place where there are no patients.
“We are allowing some industrial activity in orange and green zones to some extent. So far, the permission was given only for industries in the essential sector and transport of essentials. Now, we have told the industries that wherever possible if you take care of your employees and workers in your premises, we will supply grain. They will also get necessary raw material. We want transport of goods and not of the virus. The borders of districts will not be opened up, except for goods transport. And people will have to stay at home till May 3,” said Thackeray while addressing the state through webcast on Sunday afternoon.
In order to mitigate economic hardships brought on by the unprecedented shutdown, the Maharashtra government, acting on Centre’s directives, had exempted manufacturing units and other establishments in industrial estates, industrial townships, special economic zones and export oriented units in non-containment zones from lockdown measures starting April 20. But it has imposed various riders – including disinfecting all areas, dedicated transport for workers and accommodation for workers, mandatory thermal screening for everyone and staggered shifts among others.
The new guidelines that will be enforced starting tomorrow permit industrial activity in rural areas or outside the limits of municipalities. Based on Centre’s directions, export-oriented units, SEZs, units located in industrial townships and industrial estates, and production units which require continuous process, and their supply chains situated in non-containment zones, with the exception of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region and the Pune Municipal Corporation, have also been permitted. But it will be the responsibility of the plant owners to make arrangements for the stay of the workers within their premises or adjacent building. No workers from a hotspot or a containment zone will be allowed to commute to such workplaces, and the owners will have to provide dedicated transport for the transportation of workers.
Sources in Industry Department said the Centre’s move of allowing the movement of migrant labourers would help the industries in the state. “The move will benefit some industries but it will take at least two days to know how many industries will require labour from other districts,” said Harshdeep Kamble, Development Commissioner (Industries). Sources in the government said that they were expecting a tepid response from units for the first few days.
“The industries may resume their operations depending on factors such as finances, work orders, availability of labour and raw materials. For example, steel industry needs boiler. So even if it’s operations start tomorrow, it will take 3-4 days to come to that temperature to start their operations. So, we will need to asses the situation in coming days,” said an official. Referring to the reports of increased cases of domestic violence, Thackeray asked the women to call police for help. “Such incidents should not happen in Maharashtra. If any woman faces such issue, she should dial 100 and the police will come to her help as brother,” he added.
Defending the decision to ban the door to door delivery of newspapers, Thackeray said that the decision has been taken in the interest of the state. “There is no restriction in selling the newspapers at stalls. I do not feel it is right to allow door to door distribution of newspapers in red zones like Mumbai and Pune. Perhaps my fears may be unfounded and unnecessary. I am willing to be vilified for the sake of Maharashtra. I will accept this criticism like I accept praise. I do not want to take any risks during this health emergency,” said Thackeray adding that the government will take a decision in next few days on what can be done in rest of Maharashtra except Mumbai and Pune.
Thackeray further urged the migrant labourers to not worry and the state government will take their care. “We are discussing with the Centre and I am sure that a solution will be evolved in the coming days. I appeal to the migrant labourers not to worry. We are gradually starting activity in Maharashtra. If possible, resume work so that your livelihood is ensured,” he added. Meanwhile, Thackeray announced two helpline numbers for mental counselling of people who may feel uneasy, depressed, lonely, and frustrated after sitting at home for days. The helpline numbers are 1800120820050 and 18001024040.
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