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Pandemic inflicts short-term pain on textile hub of South India

G Balachandar Chennai | Updated on May 17, 2021

A knitwear export unit in Tiruppur (File photo)   -  The Hindu

Coimbatore, Tiruppur units see long-term gain from key export markets of US, Europe

The sudden spike in Covid-19 infections in India, especially in and around the textile hubs, has hurt the textile sector, albeit temporarily, at a time when the industry has been gearing up to meet strong export demand catalysed by geopolitical factors.

Though exporters were expecting some impact from the second wave, they were confident of overcoming it due to learnings from the first wave, and adequate precautionary measures were put in place.

Spike in daily cases

The second wave has, however, posed a lot of challenges for manufacturers in the textile hubs of Tiruppur and Coimbatore. While Coimbatore is the second worst-hit region after Chennai, Tiruppur has also seen a spike in daily new cases over the past few days.

“Tiruppur has seen a complete shut down of textile units, while export-oriented units in the outskirts and rural areas are trying to operate with skeletal staff,” says Prabhu Damodharan, Convenor, Indian Texpreneurs Federation.

Each unit is adopting calibrated measures and adhering to government guidelines. Industry representatives say that units have realised the need to break the transmission of virus and are ready to undergo the short-term pain for long-term gains once key export markets see a revival.

A Sakthivel, Chairman, Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC), points out that while new infections in Tiruppur have increased, it is not at alarming levels despite being an industrial township with about five lakh workers. But exporters have taken adequate precautions to execute some important orders.

“Thanks to the State government's efforts, we expect the situation to improve soon. Also, our key markets — such as the US and Europe — are not under lockdown like last time and orders continue to flow from these regions,” he added.

Demand boom

Damodharan also pointed out that key consumption markets are witnessing a demand boom and the industry has communicated to the buyers that the lockdown and restrictions will be a short term one, may be for three weeks.

“We told them that we will meet their requirements as we have adequate raw material and manpower to ramp up quickly. In some product cases, we have order visibility for six months,” he added.

Damodaran said organised players have retained their migrant labourers and workers by providing them with accommodation and making arrangements to vaccinate them at the earliest.

“I would say about 95 per cent of migrant workers are staying back. The association has also communicated to the members that this would be a short-term disruption and workers can be retained with adequate protective measures,” said Sakthivel.

Published on May 17, 2021

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