Covid-19 pandemic: Maharashtra phased opening not working as planned

Mumbai: Industries which have been allowed to function are struggling to streamline operations for a variety of reasons including fear of workers, interpretation of government order and other issues such transport. In Maharashtra industries have been allowed in the orange and green zones, but Covid phobia, bureaucratic red tape at the local level, lack of labour and transport issues have hindered work. The idea of reopening industries in a phased manner have not taken off as planned hence. Reports suggest that the situation was not very different in many other states.

Though several companies in different regions of Maharashtra that are free from the Covid-19 pandemic have applied for permission, they have not been able to start production as only a very small percentage of the work force reported for work. Data available till April 23 for Ahmednagar showed that only 100 of the 8,729 workers needed to work in various industrial units that had applied for permission turned up. In Aurangabad, only 80 out of the 36,025 employees reported. In places like Raigad, the situation was worse. None of the 7,233 employees required to work turned up. No worker turned up in eight other places too.

Government officials said that fear psychosis was behind workers not turning up and said that attempts were being to address the situation. Bureaucracy at the lower level is also a stumbling block. The government’s instructions on facilitating industrial units has not percolated to the ground. Industrial units face resistance from the local police and government machinery too. Another big headache is commuting of workers. Industrial units have complained about difficulty in securing passes for their movement.

When contacted, an industry department official said that the situation had improved since April 23 for which data was available. However, industry representatives that ET spoke to said that several problems remained. State government officials have also been told by many shut as well as functioning industries that they were in desperate need of financial help to tide over the crisis as many of them have lost orders and suffered huge losses due to the lockdown. There needs to be a financial package from the state as well as the Centre to tide over their difficulties, they said.

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