Challenging days for Sivakasi’s diary manufacturers

TE Raja Simhan Chennai | Updated on November 23, 2020

The small town of Sivakasi is not only famous for fireworks but also for manufacturing diaries and calendars that are mostly given as compliment every year. While the fireworks units barely survived the call for banning fireworks, the diary manufacturing units are battling poor orders with the new year less than 45 days away.

Cost cutting measures by companies in sectors such as steel and cement, and government organisations, including Life Insurance Corporation, due to Covid-19 pandemic had dealt a severe blow to diary manufacturers at Sivakasi. Every year nearly one crore diaries are printed but this year the volume has dropped by 50-60 per cent, said industry sources.

Next to fireworks, the printing industry — categorised as MSMEs — is the biggest employer in Sivakasi with over 1,000 units, including 15 large ones, employing over 40,000 persons. Next to Delhi, Sivakasi is the second biggest diary manufacturing hub in India.

“It is a pathetic situation for the diary orders this year,” said V Ganesh Kumar, President, Sivakasi Master Printers Association. The annual revenue for the diary industry in Sivakasi is nearly ₹750 crore but this year it will be down by nearly half, he added.

Government should come forward to help the industry, which is highly labour intensive, said Kumar. “We recently met Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami in Virudhunagar and sought support for the sector,” he added.

S Balaji of Alfa Diaries Pvt Ltd said that smaller units like his are the worst affected. Every year, the orders used to come in July/August and by October end, the diaries will be sent to customers. However, till now, most of the orders have not come, he said. “We lost business worth nearly ₹15 lakh this year,” he added.

According to Vasu, an official of a leading diary manufacturing unit, he has never seen such a worst situation for the sector in his four decades of being associated with the industry. “The survival of the industry is a big question mark,” he added.

Published on November 23, 2020

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