With one week left for the nationwide lockdown to end (with restrictions in many states), manufacturing companies gear up to restart factories. The companies are in touch with respective state governments for smooth evacuation of products from factories, said an executive with Tata Steel.
Most companies have been operating in staggered shifts since the lockdown was announced. Automakers have shut down the production and told non-factory employees to work remotely during the lockdown. Meanwhile, steel, power and cement plants are producing at minimal levels as the cost of shutting down all units and restarting them later may run in hundreds of crores.
JSW Steel said that it is preparing to recommence operations at all locations. On March 25, the company announced to scale down its operations and suspend production. JSW Steel has four blast furnaces and two corex in Karnataka Ballari; one furnace in Dolvi plant, Maharashtra, and one under construction.
Most of the manufacturing units in Maharashtra and Gujarat are shut since March 20. "The industrial townships, when it reopens, will need to have proper medical teams in place. Besides, they will have to work under the norms, which are prevalent during the lockdown time. It essentially means the movement of workers in and out of the complexes will be restricted," said an official with Maharashtra government.
Automobile companies working out of Pune, including Bajaj Auto and Tata Motors, have completely shut down production. Fiat Chrysler, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Skoda and Force Motors in Maharashtra have also shut down their factories. Reliance Industries' main office, Reliance Corporate Park in Navi Mumbai and the Jamnagar refinery complex are partially shut. Larsen & Toubro has halted construction except for critical projects. "Restarting the whole work with tens of thousands of workers is going to be a critical task. Some of the key employees will be able to work remotely," said an official with Reliance Industries.
The companies are also facing difficulties in getting temporary workers on board. "At least 60 per cent of the migrant workers have shifted back to their villages since the lockdown was announced," said the Reliance official. The company executives feel that it would take at least a couple of months to normalise the production if the situation continues to be under control. "Economic damage will spread across two quarters," said an executive.