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Coronavirus lockdown: Small factories fear harassment from local authorities, demand better coordination

Meanwhile, the ongoing nationwide lockdown to contain the coronavirus has been extended to May 3 taking the total lockdown days to 40, during which only essential economic activities are permitted

Nirbhay Kumar | April 14, 2020 | Updated 14:03 IST
Coronavirus lockdown: Small factories fear harassment from local authorities, demand better coordination
In his address to the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said that government would closely monitor every town, police station, district and state to see how much the lockdown was being followed

KEY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Almost all MSMEs interested in restarting their factories
  • MSMEs fear harassment from local administration if anyone gets coronavirus
  • Detailed guidelines for re-starting economic activities to be issued on Wednesday
  • Permission to re-start some activities will be withdrawn if lockdown rules are broken

Amid signals of allowing economic activities in certain sectors to ease the pain of workers, small and medium firms fear harassment by local authorities in case any employee is found coronavirus positive. They want the government to ensure that factory-owners are not subjected to harassment or retribution for no mistake of theirs.

While stating that all micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are ready to re-open their factories and establishments, the industry body has noted that local administration draws draconian powers under Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 and harassment cannot be ruled out.

"Keeping in view that the local administration draws draconian powers under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, MSME owners fear that harassment and retribution if somebody is found positive in the factory. Such fears must be allayed," Federation of Indian Micro and Small & Medium Enterprises (FISME) has written to the administrative ministry.

In his address to the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said that government would closely monitor every town, police station, district and state to see how much the lockdown was being followed. Their strict adherence to the social distancing norms and lockdown would be noted.

Based on its assessment, the government could relax lockdown restrictions in certain areas which have little or no chance of turning into coronavirus hot-spot. Certain economic activities in these areas could be allowed provided social distancing norms are strictly followed.

In its suggestions to the MSME ministry, FISME has said that only those industries should be allowed to re-open which could ensure adherence to social distancing, provide personal hygiene and protective gear and follow standard operating procedures (SOPs) for workers.

"Manufacturing is a long complex supply chain and need all kinds of products and services including ancillary units, packaging units, engineering services like moulds and dies,  shops located in industrial estates etc.  It is impossible to predict absence of which product or service could stop the production chain," the FISME said while making its recommendations on strategy to resume production.

On co-ordination and management with local authorities, the industry body said that the present practice of managing control through district magistrates (DMs) and superintendent of police (SP) is not efficient.

"They are over-burdened with law and order and other pressing duties related to COVID-19. Permits/ approvals etc for opening up, movement and operation, transportation during the period could be divested to a committee comprising of GM-DIC (General Manager, District Industries Centre) and prominent associations of the area," it has suggested.

Meanwhile, the ongoing nationwide lockdown to contain the coronavirus has been extended to May 3 taking the total lockdown days to 40, during which only essential economic activities are permitted.

However, a detailed guideline will be issued by the government on Wednesday for re-starting certain economic activities from April 20.

In his address to the nation, Prime Minister Modi has stressed that the permission to allow these activities will be conditional and the rules for going out will be very strict. "Permission will be withdrawn immediately if lockdown rules are broken, and spread of coronavirus risked," the Prime Minister said.

Also read: Coronavirus lockdown 2.0: Govt sets up 20 control rooms to address wage workers' issues

Also read: NPA laws to be suspended for 6 months, lockdown period unlikely to be counted in 90-day rule

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