15 non-essential industries could get green light amid COVID-19 lockdown extension

The recommendations come a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s video-conference meeting with chief ministers, who said the lockdown must be extended by at least two weeks.

Published: 13th April 2020 08:17 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th April 2020 08:23 AM   |  A+A-

A vendor carries broiler chickens at Ghazipur market during the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus in New Delhi Sunday April 12 2020. (Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

Sectors likely to get an exemption from lockdown:

  • Heavy electricals and telecom sector with limited activity.
  • Cement plants in three shifts.
  • Textiles, Automobile, Electronic manufacturers with 20-25% capacity in shift.
  • Housing & Construction sectors with labourers staying within the site.
  • Units in Special Economic Zones and Export Oriented Units.
  • Repair services, Fruit, Vegetable vendors with social distancing.
  • Goods transport vehicles.

NEW DELHI: In a clear indication of the government considering rolling the economic wheel again even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to extend the lockdown, the Union commerce ministry has urged the Union home ministry to reopen at least 15 industries and allow movement of “all transport vehicles”.

In a letter addressed to Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade Secretary (DPIIT) secretary Guruprasad Mohapatra suggested limited activity be allowed in certain sectors such as heavy electricals and telecom equipment, saying operation of “new activities are essential” to improve the economic condition and  to “provide liquidity in the hands of people”.

“It is felt that certain more activities with reasonable safeguards should be allowed once a final decision regarding extension and nature of lockdown is taken by the central government,” Mohapatra said in the letter.

DPIIT has urged the Union home ministry to also allow repair services, fruit and vegetable street vendors and a number of large and small-scale sectors to start work while ensuring social distancing norms.

Mohapatra said employees may lose their salary if they do no report to work. The suggestions are on the basis of discussions held by Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal with states and industry associations.

The recommendations come a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s video-conference meeting with chief ministers, who said the lockdown must be extended by at least two weeks.

The industries that are tipped to resume operations with some restrictions are manufacturing of heavy electrical items, telecom equipment and components including optic fiber cable, compressor and condenser units, steel and ferrous alloy mills, spinning and ginning mills, power looms, defence and ancillary units.

Cement plants, however, can run in three shifts as cement production is a continuous process, the letter suggested. It further said that pulp and paper units can resume their production in clusters where Covid-19 cases are low based on the data by the state authorities.

Fertiliser plants, paints and dyes manufacturing, all types of food and beverages, seeds processing units, plastic manufacturing units, automotive units, gems and jewellery sector units, all units in Special Economic Zones and Export Oriented Units have also been recommended for inclusion in the list of exemptions from nationwide lockdown measures.

It sought free movement of all vehicles and manpower required for continuing the activities permitted so far under various MHA notification. “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, is the recommendation,” the letter stated.

Big companies with proper sanitation and distancing norms in place in sectors such as textiles, automobiles and electronic manufacturing - 20 per cent to 25 per cent capacity in single shift may be considered to start with, according to the letter.

It also stated that companies/MSMEs with export commitments need to be allowed to operate with minimal manpower and necessary movement of material as a new entity.“Housing and construction sectors need to be allowed if the labourers stay at the sites with all facilities and safeguards. Contractors shall ensure safety, sanitation and distancing norms. Although there is not much construction activity, this is a large employment sector,” the letter read.

Certain repairing units like individuals or small agencies involved in providing repair services of mobiles, electrical items like refrigerators, air conditioners, televisions etc, plumbing, cobblers, ironing, electrician, automobile mechanics, and cycle repair mechanics should be allowed.

As timber, plywood and wood based industry provides packaging material to pharma companies, FMCG and other companies producing essential commodities, these should also be allowed by the state authorities. Glass and foundry industry may be allowed with their minimal manpower to keep the manufacturing in a continuous recycling mode.

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