NEW DELHI: Industry chambers on Wednesday said that the government’s decision to allow select public activities to start from 20 April would pave the way for a phased restart of industrial activity after the end of nationwide lockdown on 3 May.
The government has allowed financial sector to be fully operational with bank branches resuming normal working hours, permitted e-commerce firms to resume operations and also allowed the movement of trucks and vehicles for movement of goods. It also allowed resumption of manufacturing activity for all firms in the supply chain of essential goods to start their operations, besides reiterating orders to movement of goods on trucks.
Indian industry bodies had urged the government for a phased exit from the lockdown starting with certain industries such as food and other essential goods. They had also suggested that the restart of the industries should also be calibrated upon whether manufacturing units fell within covid hotspots or not, urging for detailed guildelines to ensure workers safety and containing the infection spread.
''Industries operating in rural areas or outside the municipality limits, special economic zones and industrial townships with certain conditions, which can be fulfilled with some costs, are a kind of partial lifting of lockdown. This is, in a way, graded opening of the economy, a proposition being advocated by ASSOCHAM. We only hope and would urge upon our members and society at large to strictly follow the SOPs so that this experiment is successful and does not pose any additional health costs,'' said Deepak Sood, secretary general at the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India.
According to the industry body, sectors that would see relaxation in curbs include food processing, cargo movement, postal services, courier services, ports, manufacture of IT hardware, mining, electricity generation, telecom, jute industries, packaging material, pharmaceuticals as well as other essentials.
The entire agri-value chain has been covered under the exemptions. The challenge is how well we are able to use these exemptions in full conformity of the guidelines and in spirit of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi's call for strict adherence to safety measures,'' Sood added.
The guidelines announced are in line with a “calibrated exit" from the lockdown for the industry, while maintaining health and sanitation of workers, said Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General at Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
“With this advance guidance, the industry would be able to prepare better for restart of economic activities," said Vikram Kirloskar, president of the Confederation of Indian Industry."The government has taken care to ensure smooth movement of the supply chain by permitting transport, warehousing, cold storage and others to operate."
The industry body said that the government should also provide support to industries such as fertilisers, pesticides, seeds and other agriculture inputs should be allowed under essential category to prepare for the upcoming summer crop.
“With initial reports on monsoons expected to be above normal, this was an important step to ensure that the entire ecosystem of agriculture inputs farm machinery and other agriculture value chain to be operational," CII said. The India Meteorological Department today, in its first forecast, predicted a 'normal monsoon' for the country.
While praising the government for a calibrated start to the economy, Sangita Reddy, president of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), said that “it is now crucial to announce a relief and economic stimulus package, which protects wage, employment and business."