CHENNAI: Though Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday hinted that some relaxations may be allowed after April 20 to resume business activities, the manufacturers and exporters at Tirupur garment cluster in Chennai are skeptical about reopening of their factories.
Raja M Shanmugam, president of Tirupur Exporters' Association (TEA), said the current cause of worry is the rising number of coronavirus patients in Tirupur. The Prime Minister has clearly said that relaxation may be allowed from April 20 in places that are not virus hotspots, but after Chennai, Coimbatore and Tirupur districts have reported the highest number of coronavirus patients in the state, Shanmugam explained. Till Tuesday, 79 patients have been traced in Tirupur.
"Looking at the circumstances, we are not sure what decision the administration will take regarding reopening of our units. On Monday, we had a meeting with the district administration. We appealed them not to count the entire district as a hotspot. Instead, they should monitor the situation properly and provide us relaxation," Shanmugam said.
"If we are not allowed to run our factories, then we will suffer massive losses and it will take years for us to recover from it," he added. TEA members said they will meet government officials again soon.
It is important to mention that Tirupur Exporters Association has recently written to the Central and state governments to allow the textile cluster to reopen, so that they can send samples to clients in the US and Europe, and retain export orders for the spring-summer collection. Otherwise, they will lose their export customers forever to countries like China, Bangladesh and Pakistan, where factories are still functional.
"The road ahead seems very difficult for us. Being a cluster, along with manufacturing units, allied units such as the dyeing and embroidery units should also be granted permission to function. Only then will we be able to manufacture complete garments for exports," said S Shivanan, an exporter from the district.
There are over 10,000 garment manufacturing industries in Tirupur, employing over 6 lakh people. The cluster on an average exports textiles worth Rs 2,500 crore a month. Cotton knitwear sent from here are in much demand in European countries.