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NEW DELHI : The Clothing Manufacturers Association of India (CMAI), which includes 4,500 members of the country's apparel manufacturing and retail market, has appealed to the government of Maharashtra against imposing a complete covid-19 lockdown, which, it said could further cripple the financial health of the state’s garment manufacturing units.

“Garment industry has been hit particularly severely by the pandemic last year. Retail, which is the lifeline of garment industry, was one of the last sectors to be opened. It has taken the industry close to a year to regain at least some semblance of pre-covid business levels. Even now our industry, unlike many others, has just about touched 70% of pre-covid levels. To go into another lockdown will completely kill the garment industry of Maharashtra," Rajesh Masand, president, CMAI, said in a statement.

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Maharashtra is currently under a lockdown that prohibits the opening of non-essential shops. The growing tally of covid cases has also prompted the government to consider a full lockdown in the state.

There are 18,000 garment factories in Maharashtra, 10,000 of which are in Mumbai.

The garment industry employs 1.3 million people in the state.

The state’s rising covid graph is a matter of great concern, and we compliment the Maharashtra government for taking immediate and necessary steps to control the further spread of covid-19. However, it is also disturbing to hear reports about the government contemplating the reintroduction of lockdowns as a means to control the virus, Masand said.

CMAI said it is crucial to impose strict measures but added that it is equally critical not to allow recovery to stall once again by shutting down factories.

Manufacturers are also concerned that lockdowns could again lead an exodus of workers from the state, something which has already started. “It will also be impossible to get all the workers back once they have gone back to their hometowns—making the restarting of factories all the more difficult. Shutting down factories will impact not only workers from outside the state but also local workers," CMAI said.

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