Coronavirus | Industrial activity can be restarted in at least 15 sectors, says Industries Department

Export units and construction sector need to be allowed to operate within safeguards, said the letter send to the Home Secretary. Photo for representation.  

The Commerce and Industries Ministry has called for far-reaching measures to be taken to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 lockdown, urging the Home Ministry to allow relaxations of the restrictions on a number of industry sectors.

In a letter to Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla on Saturday, Industries Secretary Guruprasad Mohapatra said “more activities with reasonable safeguards must be allowed” once a final decision was taken on the extension of the lockdown. “These new activities are essential to improve the economic activity and provide liquidity in the hands of the people,” urged Dr. Mohapatra who heads the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT). He said all recommendations were based on Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal’s interactions with industry representatives.


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Dr. Mohapatra recommended that industrial activity be restarted in at least 15 sectors, including heavy electricals, electronics and telecom equipment, automobiles, steel mills, power looms, defence units, cement, rubber, seeds, agro-chemicals and fertilizers. To begin with, manufacturing should be restarted in single shifts of 20-25% capacity, following proper social distancing and sanitation norms. Companies which are allowed to operate should be allowed to insist on workers returning for duty to avail wages, he added.

Export units and construction sector need to be allowed to operate within safeguards, while street vendors and small repairmen should be allowed to provide doorstep services, said the letter.


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“It’s a recommendatory letter from the DPIIT. We have collected the opinions of trade and industry and conveyed it to the MHA [Ministry of Home Affairs]. It is for the MHA to take a final call,” Dr. Mohapatra told The Hindu when asked about the letter.

In his letter, the DPIIT Secretary raised the issue of transport hurdles as a major roadblock, even for the activities already permitted by the Home Ministry notifications. “We are facing a lot of problems on this and very clear reiteration of the MHA stand to allow free movement of vehicles and manpower in these sectors needs to be done,” he said. “All transport vehicles of all sizes, whether inter-State, intra-State or intra-city, need to be allowed, whether empty or full, by all enforcement agencies without asking any question.” He also urged that banks and customs accept digital documents without insisting on original copies until the lockdown is over.

Dr. Mohapatra emphasised the importance of allowing vendors and service providers to resume activities so that this vulnerable population gets much needed cash liquidity, apart from providing critical services to other citizens. These include fruit and vegetable sellers, plumbers, electricians, cobblers, dhobis and mobile repairmen, he said.

With regard to reopening industries, the suggested safeguards include single entry points for workers, sufficient space for ensuring social distancing, use of separate transport for ferrying workers or making housing arrangements in factory premises and high quality regular sanitisation of the premises, said the letter. State and district authorities would be responsible for monitoring compliance.

Given that rubber is essential for certain medical items including surgical gloves and other protective equipment, catheters, ventilators and IV tubing, Dr. Mohapatra urged that manufacturing of such items be given priority.

Other industry sectors include glass, paper, FMCG, food and beverages, plastic, gems and jewellery, paints and dyes, and all units in special economic zones. Steel, power and mining industries are already exempted from the lockdown restrictions.

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Printable version | Jul 25, 2021 10:41:11 PM |

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