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Amidst Covid-19 uncertainty, Mumbai’s garment-makers look to relocate to Kutch

Rutam Vora Ahmedabad | Updated on May 19, 2020

Faced with high maintenance cost, labour issues, they wish to return to their native in Gujarat

Uncertainty following the Covid-19 outbreak has prompted many small and medium business owners in Mumbai to think about relocating their operations, closer to their native place, away from the metro.

Over 1,000 small and medium garment makers in Mumbai are contemplating relocatingto the Kutch district in Gujarat . The garment entrepreneurs, most of whom are Kutchi Patels — a farming community — plan to set up a Garment Business Park in Kutch.

Anil Gami, President of the Garment Manufacturers’ Welfare Association - Mumbai,, said: “At present we are checking the interest of the members. We have found that over 1,200 people have shown interest in relocating to Kutch. It is getting difficult to operate in Mumbai after the Covid-19 uncertainty, high cost of maintenance, rent, labour and overall cost of operations. Many of these entrepreneurs have farmlands, which is an added attraction after Narmada Canal accessibility.”

The labour-intensive (engaging mostly women), garment making industry in Mumbai is dominated by ‘Kutchi’ entrepreneurs. Santacruz, Khar, Dadar, Kalyan and Bhiwandi are some of the pockets, where about 3,000 such MSME garment units are concentrated. Each unit employs anywhere in the range of 10-12 workers to more than 150-180 workers, including migrant women workers from Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar and some from Maharashtra. The garment industry cluster is well-integrated with allied businesses such as making of accessories, thread, dyeing, printing and embroidery.

Recent disruptions in businesses, transport, labour availability and also the uncertainty about the future has left many thinking about returning to their native place.

“My father had come to Mumbai in 1960s. Today, I have a unit in Kongaon in Bhiwandi with about 180-190 workers — all are locals from the neighbouring villages. There is no labour issue for me. But yes I want to go to Kutch because we aren't sure about our future in Mumbai,” said Mansukhbhai Nisar, who makes kidsware under ‘Vitamin’ brand. Covid-19-led disruptions has caused business loss for at least the next six months with no promising business in sight for Diwali or New Year.

“Kutch offers all that Mumbai has in terms of accessibility, logistics, air-rail-road connectivity and above all, proximity to our native place. My son is our third generation in Mumbai. But it is time we look at Kutch,” Nisar told BusinessLine.

“We have initiated talks with the association to set up a garment park in Kutch. I will need 50,000 sqft of area to set up a larger unit than the existing one in Mumbai. However, I will continue to have my marketing and sales operations in Mumbai for obvious reasons of proximity to market,” he said.

“In a week's time, we are planning to approach the Gujarat government to explore what kind of suitable incentives or support they can extend to relocate such large number of units from outside Gujarat to Kutch,” Gami said.

The proposed Garment Business Park will have packaging, printing and washing facilities. To source fabric from the textile hubs, the garment players are looking to engage with textile mills in Ahmedabad, Surat and Ludhiana in Punjab to secure supplies.

 

Published on May 19, 2020

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