District Collector of Rajkot permitted all industrial units in rural areas to resume operations from Monday on certain conditions, while some units in the district went through long route to get permission to operate even before relaxation.
On Friday, machines in Super-Tech Plastpack Pvt Limited, a medium unit located on the Padavala Road in Shapar-Veraval industrial cluster near Rajkot started spinning out caps for pet bottles. Resident labourers got back to work after a month as the factory suspended operations on March 22 on the day of Janta Curfew and remained closed due to lockdown.
The resumption of activities allayed some of the anxieties of Jignesh Barasiya, managing director of STPPL. “Lockdown came at the worst time for us. We set up our unit just a year ago and have a 3.5 crore bank loan to repay. We supply caps to those packing juice and soft drinks in PET bottles. Consumption of beverages goes up in summer and therefore, February-June is the period when we do around 60 per cent of our annual business,” says Barasiya.
The MD says that his company is paying Rs 9.5 lakh EMI for the loan availed and pays Rs 3 lakh cumulative salary per month to its 12 workers and employees.
After the Central government permitted food processing and packaging material manufacturers to resume operations, the company approached Rajkot District Collector on April 9 seeking permission to restart the factory. “Luckily, factories in Goa reopened earlier us and we got an order from there on April 8 to supply 12 lakh caps. I went to collector’s office with the order from Goan firms and applied for permission to resume operations at our factory. The permission was eventually granted on April 18,” 39-year-old Barasiya says.
He adds that the turnover of STPPL was Rs 10 crore in its first year. “But this year, we are apprehending a net loss as business cycle will take time to regain speed. We may face liquidity issues if the situation does not ease in coming two-three months,” adds Barasiya who holds a degree in computer science.
He adds that moratorium on repayment of loans will not help much. “One will end up paying more if one opts for moratorium. It would help if the government releases GST refund instead,” he says. STPPL paid Rs 1.5 crore GST for importing machinery worth Rs 7 crore.
Financial condition apart, threat of viral infection is at top of the MD’s mind. “We supply material for packing beverages… biggest concern is the threat of viral infection. We are strictly following social distancing, giving workers masks and hand sanitisers and ensure that they don’t go out of factory premises except for buying vegetables,” said Barasiya, adding since the plant is automatic, only five persons work in a shift in well spaced out locations in the plant.
The company has the capacity to manufacture three lakh caps per day. Rajkot district administration officers said that around 700 factories and been issued permissions to resume operations even before general relaxations from lockdown were announced on Monday.
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