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Start big units at 25% capacity, Industry dept tells Home Ministry

In an April 11 letter to Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla, DPIIT secretary Guruprasad Mohapatra said that apart from the industries operating as essential services, “certain more activities” should be allowed “with reasonable safeguards”.

Written by Prabha Raghavan | New Delhi | Updated: April 13, 2020 11:57:43 am
India lockdown, coronavirus cases, improve economy, factory workers, indian express news The letter was written following “very detailed interaction” of Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal with various states and industry bodies. (Representational Image)

With the Centre and states considering a two-week extension of the ongoing nationwide lockdown, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) Saturday proposed that sectors be allowed to resume operations in a staggered manner. COVID-19 LIVE updates

xFor labour-intensive sectors such as textiles, automobiles, steel, defence and electronic manufacturing, the department proposed resumption of operations at 20-25 per cent capacity in a single shift initially, provided they follow proper safety precautions.

In an April 11 letter to Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla, DPIIT secretary Guruprasad Mohapatra said that apart from the industries operating as essential services, “certain more activities” should be allowed “with reasonable safeguards” once the government takes a final call on the extension and nature of the lockdown. “These new activities are essential to improve the economic activity and provide liquidity in the hands of the people,” he said in the letter.

When contacted, Mohapatra declined to comment on the letter, but said once sectors are progressively opened up, more could follow. “We have been interacting with many sectors and trade and industry bodies keeping in mind the whole purpose of the lockdown. Keeping in view the need to revive some more sectors along with maintaining safety, security and health, we feel some more sectors can be opened. In any case, the local authority will be in a better position to decide how this should be done,” he told The Indian Express.

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Keeping with the spirit of ‘jaan bhi, jahaan bhi’ motto the Prime Minister mentioned in his meeting with chief ministers of states, the DPIIT has proposed that certain repairing units like those for mobile, refrigerators, automobiles, air conditioners and television too be allowed. “This will help the citizens under lockdown to avail these critical services and also provide them cash liquidity, which is required very much. Also, these services do not lead to any crowding. E-commerce entities providing such repair services may also be allowed,” the letter said.

The DPIIT secretary also said that micro, small and medium enterprises with export commitments “need to be allowed to operate with minimal manpower and necessary movement of material”. He also suggested that “big” companies in textiles, automobiles and electronic manufacturing that follow “proper sanitation and distancing norms” be allowed to start operating at 20-25 percent capacity in a single shift “to start with”.

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Ancillaries catering to essential industries like pharmaceuticals and healthcare may also be allowed to operate. This includes certain segments of the rubber industry and those producing medical equipment like gloves, hospital rubber sheets, medical devices, catheters, anaesthesia bags and ventilator bellows.

“Timber, plywood and wood based industry provides packaging material to pharma companies, FMCG and other companies producing essential commodities. These should also be allowed by the state authorities,” the letter said.

Among other sectors that should be allowed to resume operations “with minimum manpower”, the letter listed makers of telecom equipment and components, steel and ferrous alloy mills, power looms, cement plants, all types of food and beverages, plastic manufacturing units, big and organised gems and jewellery sector units, automotive units and all SEZs and EOUs.

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Mohapatra stressed that transport vehicles of all sizes, whether inter-state, intra-state or intra-city, need to be allowed by all enforcement agencies “without asking any question”.

Industries allowed to operate would have to ensure safety measures like single entry points for workers, sufficient space to ensure social distancing, use of separate transport for ferrying workers or arrangements for their stay and “high quality” regular sanitisation of the premises, the letter noted. “State and district authorities, while allowing these activities, should ensure strict observance of these conditions,” it said.

The letter was written following “very detailed interaction” of Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal with various states and industry bodies.

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