Maharashtra industries minister Subhash Desai on Thursday indicated that the state government may allow resumption of industrial activities from April 20 in the areas where no COVID-19 patient has been found so far.
The most industrialised state has recorded the maximum number of coronavirus cases so far and the lockdown in force since March 25 to check the COVID-19 spread has brought most of the industrial and commercial units to a grinding halt.
In an official statement, Desai said, "In the areas where no COVID-19 cases have been found, the industrial activities are likely to resume from April 20 onwards."
"We will give the permissions within the framework set by the Union government," he said. Desai made the announcement after holding a special meeting with a group of senior bureaucrats from the industries and health department.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Tuesday announced the extension of the current nation-wide lockdown till May 3 to curb the spread of coronavirus. We are preparing a draft proposal on how to resume industrial activities in the areas where we have not found any cases of COVID-19.
"The decision will be taken only after consultation with local medical staff, district collector, industrial officers and owners of the units, Desai said. The proposal will be submitted to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray soon for his approval, he said.
We are hopeful that industries would resume their work around April 20. Those who have no job at present, some of them could start earning as well. Their tension would get reduced to some extent, Desai said.
The Shiv Sena minister said agriculture will remain a focussed area for the government. "Within the plan of resuming industrial activities, our priority would be to agriculture-allied industries.
Farmers need support in a such situation as well, he said. "The Centre on Wednesday permitted states to undertake some activities that would set the wheels of economy moving.
A review meeting in this regard was held today along with the stakeholders, Desai said. nIndustries wanting to start operations will have to take certain measures like in-house accommodation for workers, he said.
"If an industry can arrange accommodation for its workers within its premises, it will be given priority by the state to resume work. This measure will ensure no infection from outside comes to the industrial unit," said the minister.
Some factories can even arrange transportation for their employees. If small and medium scale companies in the MIDC areas come together, some accommodation for workers can be provided and these units can resume production and processing, he said.
There are six districts with no case, while there are some 14 districts where a handful of COVID-19 positive patients have been found. Maharashtra has 36 districts.
"A secretary-level meeting will also take place to come up with more solutions, Desai said. Maharashtra has so far recorded 3,202 coronavirus cases and 194 deaths.