Maharashtra, the country’s most industrialised state, is banking on more manufacturers to resume production even with the Centre permitting additional exemptions in the third phase of the lockdown. Till Saturday, 20,558 industrial units in the state had obtained permission to resume operations while adhering to coronavirus (COVID-19) precautionary measures. Of these, 6,739 had already started production, officials said.
Before April 20, only 6,821 production units of essential commodities and those which require continuous process were operational. “A total of 13,560 units are now operational. These include 805 large-scale industries and 12,755 MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises),” a senior official said.
On Friday, while announcing guidelines for the third phase of the lockdown commencing May 4, the Centre, additionally, exempted export-oriented units, special economic zones (SEZ), units located in industrial townships and industrial estates and production units which require continuous process, along with their supply chains located in non-containment zones inside districts classified ‘orange’ or ‘red’.
At the time of filing this report, the state government was yet to release operational guidelines, but sources said the government also favoured permitting more industrial activity.
But a senior official said the unavailability of labour and fall in demand continued to be major obstacles for production units. Less than 30 per cent of the normal workforce has resumed duties in the 6,739 units, which have gone into production since April 20.
“Against 4,68,985 workers normally employed, hardly 1,39,472 have resumed work,” an official said. Sources attributed this to restrictions on inter and intra district travel. The state industries department has appointed nodal officials to facilitate this worker movement.
As on Friday, statistics show that transit passes were issued to 3,166 such vehicles. According to the Centre’s norms, the responsibility of making arrangements for the stay of workers within industrial premises or an adjacent building is on the owners of such units. Further, workers from a containment zone are not allowed to commute to such workplaces, and the owners are expected to provide dedicated transport. “All those who have applied for resumption have submitted self-certified declaration/undertaking that they will abide by terms and conditions of the state and central governments to contain the spread of coronavirus,” an official said.
Aaccording to official records, production units in Marathwada and North Maharashtra are ahead in obtaining permission as compared to other divisions, with Nashik (3,747) and Aurangabad (2,857) leading th charge. Ahmednagar has 1,037 applications, while in Pune district, tagged as a coronavirus red zone, 2,540 units have applied for permission to resume activity, and 1,945 have done so in Kolhapur.
In the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, the worst-hit area, 1,173 units in Palghar and 1,521 in Thane have applied.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines