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COVID-19 lockdown: Tentative start to activity as industries short of workforce, wary of market access curbs

In Uttar Pradesh, while highway construction activity resumed, work crawled in non-essential industries, busy as they were in seeking permissions and passes for the workforce.

Published: 21st April 2020 01:42 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st April 2020 11:30 AM   |  A+A-

Postal service started their operation from Monday. A scene at Tiruvanmaiyur post office in Chennai. (Photo | Ashwin Prasath/EPS)

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Parts of India on Monday emerged from its self-imposed cocoon as the hard nationwide lockdown was selectively relaxed, but there was no sudden spurt in activity since the ways and means of going about it were still to be put in place.

In Uttar Pradesh, while highway construction activity resumed, work crawled in non-essential industries, busy as they were in seeking permissions and passes for the workforce.

“Those units that can house the labour force within their premises would be allowed to function. However, 19 hotspot districts will continue to observe lockdown,” said Additional Chief Secretary, home, Awanish Awasthi.

In Punjab, which changed its tough lockdown extension stand and decided on partial relaxation, many industrialists were wary of resuming operations because they were unsure of reaching national markets to sell their products.

During the lockdown, around 2,150 industrial units manufacturing essential goods were functioning.

“Now more industrialists will seek permission. It all depends on them and the availability of labour,’’ said a senior officer of state industries department.

R S Sachdeva, the mentor of Punjab chapter of PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said, “Senior officers of the industries department assured us that if any case of coronavirus is detected in a factory, no case will be registered against its owner. But the factory will cease to operate.’’

In Haryana, too, factory owners were reluctant to begin operations due to problems of market access and manpower movement. Similar reports came in from other states like Assam and Uttarakhand.

Likewise in Bihar, industrialists rued that lack of raw materials and the non-availability of workers as bottlenecks for the resumption of production.

N K Aggarwal, president of the Hajipur Industries Association, said: “We don’t have sufficient workers in units to resume production. Many of them have gone home and refused to return till the pandemic subsides.”

In Jharkhand, though the medium and small scale industries and the real estate sectors were happy to restart operations, they said it will take over a month for full production.

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