Lockdown: ‘Govt’s revised guidelines leaves implementation details to States’

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani New Delhi | Updated on April 15, 2020 Published on April 15, 2020

A visitor wearing a protective mask walks through a sanitation tunnel at the entrance to the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Northern Sector Headquarter staff campin New Delhi, on Wednesday   -  Bloomberg

With commercial activity to resume even in non-essential segments outside containment zones, it is up to the local administration now, say manufacturers

With the Home Affairs Ministry permitting some commercial activities in non-essential sectors outside Covid-19 containment zones, effective April 20, the spotlight will now shift on the implementation strategy adopted by State, district and local-level administrations.

Kamal Nandi, president, Consumer Electronics and Appliances Manufacturers Association, said consumer durable players, with factories in green zones and in Special Economic Zones, Export-Oriented Units, industrial estates and townships or are outside the limits of municipal corporations, will begin seeking approvals from State and local authorities to begin manufacturing, in line with the Centre’s directives. “More clarity is expected to come from State and local-level administrations on this issue in the coming days,” he added.

Manish Sharma, president and CEO, Panasonic India, said: “As our factory in Jhajjar, Haryana, is in a green zone, we are hoping to get permission to start manufacturing soon. The summer is here, and while we have enough inventory of ACs and refrigerators to meet consumer demands, we would like to start operations to ensure longer term sustainability.” He said the company is prepared for staggered operations, with workers coming in batches, ensuring social distancing, frequent sanitising and use of masks, among other initiatives.

The Central government has notified a standard operating procedure (SOP) for such manufacturing units that are expected to be allowed to resume operations with about 20-25 per cent workforce.

Avneet Singh Marwah, Director and CEO, Super Plastronics, brand licensee for Kodak and Thomson TVs in India, said: “We have invested in ‘sanitisation’ machines at our manufacturing units and have created guidelines for employees to practise social distancing and production-floor distancing. We will seek approvals from the district-level officials for restarting operations at our plant.”

However, another senior executive with a consumer durable firm said issues such as closure of retail stores and lack of enough manpower will be key challenges for resumption of production for the consumer durable industry.

Packaged food companies

Meanwhile, even in the essential segment, packaged food companies are hoping the revised guidelines will ease bottlenecks in procuring raw materials and packaging as well as logistics-related issues. To provide an impetus to the rural economy, industries in rural areas, including food processing industries, will be allowed to operate in green zones, the revised guidelines have stated.

Nitin Seth, Vice-Chairman, GD Foods, known for its packaged food brand Tops, said: “It all depends on the interpretation by local-level authorities. One of our plants is in a village in Punjab; the rural administration is not allowing us to operate. Also, shortage of labour has been a consistent challenge.”

Krishnarao Buddha, Senior Category Head, Parle Products, said: “The revised guidelines have further clarified to State and local governments on allowing operations of the entire supply chain of packaged products. We hope labour shortage eases so we can ramp up operations from the current levels.”

E-commerce, IT and IT-enabled services, data and call centres for government activities, and online teaching and distance learning are all permitted now, the guidelines added.

Published on April 15, 2020

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