Amid hopes that government would allow key industries to open up with certain riders, the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) on Monday asked industry bodies to submit plans as to how they would ensure discipline in factories and arrange protective gears for staff.
"The Ministry wants to know if industry associations of various clusters and industrial areas would be able to ensure self-discipline at factory floors. The feedback has to be given by today (Monday) so that inputs could be sent to Home Ministry for taking final call," a person aware of the development said.
- Ministry of MSMEs has asked industry bodies to submit plans on restarting operations
- DPIIT suggested Home Ministry to allow 16 industries to partially start operations
- Manufacturing of electrical items, telecom equipment, fertilisers, defence equipment, automotive likely to resume
- List of essential economic activities expanded to include agriculture, allied activities
The move has come close on the heels of Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) Secretary Guruprasad Mohapatra's suggestion to Home Ministry for permitting as many as 16 industries to partially start operations during the ongoing lockdown.
"Those companies/MSMEs with export commitments need to be allowed to operate with minimal manpower and necessary movement of material as a new entity. While granting passes, the concerned authorities may check details of the export commitments and allow accordingly," Mohaptara wrote to his counterpart Ajay Kumar Bhalla in Home Ministry.
As per DPIIT, industries manufacturing heavy electrical items, telecom equipment, fertilisers, defence equipment and automotive parts among others have been proposed to be allowed to resume operations.
There is growing pressure on the government to balance life with livelihood, which can only happen with start of economic activity. Industry insiders say workers across various industrial clusters want either work to resume or be allowed to return to their hometowns.
Industries are also under tremendous stress as cash flow has dried up making it difficult to pay salaries and wages.
"The work has to open. Work has to be allowed for companies which can manage in large spaces. Work has to be allowed in small and medium scale also. Workers are sitting. There is a capacity issue. There is an economic fallout. We are therefore recommending that anything which is essential should be allowed," said Deepak Sood, Secretary General at industry chamber Assocham.
The 21-day lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus ends on April 14 and the government is expected to extend the restriction for another 15 days.
Since the shutdown was announced, government has expanded the list of essential economic activities to include agriculture and allied activities.
Some industries such as pharmaceutical, medical equipment and food-processing have continued operations at lower scale.
Public policy experts recommend economic activity to resume for the sake of people's livelihood.
"I think it is the reality that we need to start some economic activities because we cannot possibly continue like this when a large portion of population is living close to or below the poverty line. You can't afford to have no economic activities for such a long time," said Riaz Thingna, Director, Grant Thornton Advisory.