Industrial units face multiple challenges to resume operations despite relaxations in lockdown norms: FIEO
The revised guidelines require the stay of workers to be within the premises or in the adjacent building or requires their transportation in a dedicated vehicle.
New Delhi: Apex exporters' body FIEO has written to the commerce ministry highlighting multiple challenges that are holding back industrial units from starting operations even partially, despite relaxations in lockdown guidelines announced recently.
Among the major challenges are skyrocketing charges of private transport vehicles, non-availability of premises with MSME units for stay of workers and certain states mandating industry to install touch-free sanitiser machines at entry and exit points of a factory.
FIEO director general Ajay Sahai in a letter to the commerce secretary said the industry is concerned with many "restrictions and responsibilities imposed" by the revised guidelines and standard operating protocol of 15 April, which are coming in the way of starting factories.
Since state buses are not generally plying, such vehicles may be given to manufacturers for transportation of workers on reasonable charges, he suggested.
The revised guidelines require the stay of workers to be within the premises or in the adjacent building or requires their transportation in a dedicated vehicle and many units, particularly MSMEs, neither keep workers within the premises nor can quickly arrange to put them in an adjacent building.
"Since the private transport is not available and wherever available, its charges have skyrocketed, units prefer to wait till the lockdown is over. If workers are allowed to use their cycles/two-wheelers it can solve the problem of many units," he said.
He also said that the requirement of medical insurance of workers is creating a problem since workers are supplied by the contractor as many industries do not have workers on their pay roll.
"Since workers on payroll have ESI facility and contract worker may be covered by Ayushmaan Bharat scheme, this requirement may be relooked into," Sahai said adding states are interpreting the word preferably as mandatory and asking industry to install only touch-free sanitiser machines, which are very costly and in short supply, at entry, exit and a common area of a factory.
He said that Section 58 of the Disaster Management Act is interpreted differently by the states and some of the functionaries of the states are explaining that if any COVID-19 case is found, FIR will be filed against the owner(s) which requires suitable clarification from the ministry of home affairs.
"It is better if the responsibility of the owners(s) /management is detailed by the ministry/states," he said.
Further, he said that the detailed guidelines talk about sealing of the factory if any COVID-19 case is detected.
"The sealing process is quite complicated and it may take 3-6 months'' time for any industry to get permission to unseal it. Many units are therefore reluctant to open as such a situation is not ruled out. The industry is apprehensive as COVID-19 cases are on the rise and if the factory is sealed suddenly, the industry will be saddled with the cost of inputs as well as output, in addition to the fixed costs," he added.
He also added that many states have yet not issued the standard operating protocols, based on which the industry will evaluate its preparedness before applying for permission.
"At a few places in green or rural areas, manufacturing has not started as ancillaries providing important part/ components are in the red zone, thus continuous manufacturing is not viable," he said.
The director general said that for many auto clusters, the manufacturing hasn't started as the distribution channels have not been opened yet.
Some of the food processing units have reported that they are not getting the raw material as the village panchayats do not allow anyone to enter the village to procure such raw materials, he said adding for cashew industry, units are finding it difficult to get raw materials to start production.
The labour shortage is across industries and even affecting the transportation sector very badly, which is also deterring units from opening, Sahai said.
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