A majority of industries and MSMEs in and around Chennai will operate with skeletal staff, who have been provided accommodation close to the company premises, during the complete lockdown, commencing on June 19.
Many firms have even cut their production by 20-30%, for the next two weeks. The companies that The Hindu spoke to said that they would run their plants with as many workers who turn up for duty, as shutting down completely would lead to huge losses and orders might get diverted to neighbouring States where firms are operational.
“We are going to be operational. There will be some reduction in production due to constraints such as a lack of availability of parts and direct workforce within Kancheepuram,” said Arul Selvam Hari Krishnan, general manager- Vehicle Production Operations and Manufacturing Engineering, Daimler India Commercial Vehicles (DICV). “We have arranged air-conditioned accommodation for employees coming from other districts. We are also planning on providing them free COVID-19 testing and immunity kits with soaps, sanitisers and thermometers,” he added.
“As requested by the District Collector, we will restrict inter-district movement of employees by moving critical resources to hotels near our campus to keep our production and warehouse operational. We have learnt that the government has permitted senior staff to travel with e-passes, and hopefully, this should help us operate the plant safely,” said P. Ravichandran, president, Danfoss India. He added, “We are doing as much as we can to balance customer delivery commitments, even though it is costing us more to run production.”
Construction industry representatives said that work would be carried out during the next 12 days. Padam Dugar, vice-chairman and managing director of Dugar Housing Limited and president of CREDAI- Chennai Chapter, said that work would happen at most places, as per government guidelines. “Arrangements have been made for workers’ stay in the sites. Food and groceries will be given to them,” he said. Two other builders who did not want to be named said that they would operate as per guidelines as they have to deliver houses to customers, as promised while they made their bookings.
Around 60%-70% units are expected to operate in the Ambattur Industrial Estate. A.N. Sujeesh, president, Ambattur Industrial Estate Manufacturers’ Association, said, “Those who have space are accommodating workers inside their units. The rest will be functioning with resources available in the vicinity. Managers and supervisors have got e-passes.”
R. Selvam, secretary of the Thirumudivakkam Industrial Estate Manufacturers’ Association, said, “We can give a clear picture only on Friday. Many units here have lodged workers in nearby apartments and dormitories. Those residing within a 2-km radius have been asked to come for work.”
Retailers in the clothing space have decided to keep their shutters down as movement is restricted. Consumer durable firms have also said that they will not open their businesses in Chennai and its neighbouring districts.