economic activities: States keen to hit the restart button on economic activities

New Delhi: Most states have told the Centre that they want speedy resumption of economic activities in the permitted districts after the home ministry issued guidelines on restarting industrial activities such as manufacturing and construction in safer areas from April 20. “In a video conference on Wednesday, chief secretaries of […]

New Delhi: Most states have told the Centre that they want speedy resumption of economic activities in the permitted districts after the home ministry issued guidelines on restarting industrial activities such as manufacturing and construction in safer areas from April 20.

“In a video conference on Wednesday, chief secretaries of most states responded very positively to the new guidelines. The Centre will assist all the states in safely resuming economic activity,” a senior government official told ET.

The Centre has adopted a flexible approach in allowing states to take the call on how to restart the economic engine by following the guidelines. The health ministry has classified 170 districts as Covid-19 hotspots or red zones, 207 districts as yellow zones with some infected cases, and 359 districts as green zones with no cases. Economic activity will not be allowed in the red zones.

Labour Deployment

In the other districts, it will be subject to approval of the state and district administrations.

Among the key issues to restart industrial activity right now is availability of labour, as thousands of migrant workers have returned to their native places from cities and industrial areas, said officials.

“The government has mapped data of labour availability across states and is working with state governments to see if the labour presently available within a particular state has skills to be used for other economic activities,” the official said.

For instance, labour available in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab and Rajasthan could be used for industrial as well as agricultural activities such as harvesting, even if they were previously employed in some other sectors.

“Movement of people is allowed for permitted activity; so, if an industry falls under a permitted activity, labour required should be able to move freely within the state after following all the required social distancing norms,” an official said.

However, interstate movement won’t be allowed yet, which means return of labour from states such as Bihar and Uttar Pradesh has been completely ruled out at least till May 3, when the current lockdown ends.

This means states will have to make do with whatever labour they have and the central government will assist states in deploying them. “The message to the workers is go back to your work areas,” the official said.

Industrial Townships

While industrial townships are slotted to begin operations first, the government feels economic activities would take a longer time to resume in dense urban areas.

“Industrial activity should, for instance, begin in Maharashtra, and people shouldn’t have much problem until they are in urban areas where activity cannot start immediately,” the official said.

Even in districts that are notified as hotspots, some activities could happen in areas that are outside the ‘containment zone’ in urban areas, which might have to be treated a bit differently. This is also under consideration.

Source Article

Lois C. Ferrara

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