The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has suggested that districts with significant industrial and business operations should be allowed to function even if there are cases of novel coronavirus in those regions. Activities should resume even in containment zones with highest safety protocols, recommends CII.
In 'A Strategy Note on Resumption of Economic Activities in Industrial Areas' submitted to the government after the decision to extend the lockdown was announced on May 1, CII stated that "The third phase of lockdown necessitates a focused strategy to minimise economic contraction due to COVID-19, without compromising on efforts to control the contagion". "Prioritising districts with heavy presence of economic and industrial activities with continued operations accompanied by strictest precautions can help enterprises to remain financially sustainable while averting job losses," says Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII.
CII requested that the top districts should be identified based on variables like their contribution to the country's GDP, or presence of industrial estates and clusters or registration of enterprises in that region.
Instead of the current practice of classifying the entire district as a Red Zone, there is need for classifying zones as containment, Orange and Green within an industrial district, says CII. Economic activities, in varying degrees of relaxation, should be permitted in all areas of this district but health and safety protocols would differ from zone to zone, it said.
According to the strategy paper, the containment zone may be a street, mohalla or factory building where positive cases have been detected. CII has suggested that close surrounding areas can be classified as Orange Zones where industrial activity can be continued with strict precautionary measures and monitoring. The industry body also wanted the distinction of essential and non-essential items to be removed and all factories should be permitted to restart.
In containment zones, industrial units where no positive cases exist can be allowed to operate if workers can be restricted to the premises or within walkable distance, as per the CII note. Raw materials and finished goods should be disinfected and kept separately for 72 hours before use, as permissible by health authorities.
"Aggressive measures are required to ensure that an industrial district moves from Red to Orange and Green within 21 days. The cost of undertaking precautionary measures by way of repeated sanitation, wearing of PPE, masks, monitoring, group testing, etc will be much less than the economic loss if businesses in such high performing districts have to remain shut for a longer duration," says Banerjee.
The CII strategy note prescribes standard operating procedures for offices, workplaces, factories, and establishments prior to resuming operations, after resuming operations, and guidelines for social distancing and visitor management.