The industry body also called for "economic contribution of districts to be taken into consideration while classifying lockdown zones".
At a time when the government has decided to provide some relaxations in restrictions during the third phase of the nationwide lockdown starting from May 4, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) on Sunday called for a greater industrial activities in districts with high economic performance.
The industry body also called for “economic contribution of districts to be taken into consideration while classifying lockdown zones”. “Districts with high economic activity should resume all industrial and business operations, including in containment zones with highest safety protocols,” CII said in a report, ‘Strategy Note on Resumption of Economic Activities in Industrial Area’. The suggestions followed the notification, issued on May 1 by the government, on graded exit from the coronavirus-related lockdown.
The third phase of lockdown necessitates “a focused strategy to minimise economic contraction due to Covid-19”, without compromising on efforts to control the contagion, the trade body said in a statement. “Prioritising districts with heavy presence of economic and industrial activities with continued operations, accompanied by strictest precautions, can help enterprises to remain financially sustainable while averting job losses,” CII Director General Chandrajit Banerjee said.
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The industry body also said while the protracted lockdown in the country, necessitated by the rapid spread of Covid-19, has also caused enormous stress to the financial sustainability of many businesses. In its strategy note, it requested that the top districts should be identified based on variables like their contribution to country’s GDP, or presence of industrial estates and clusters or registration of enterprises in a district. Instead of the current practice of categorising the entire district as a ‘red zone’, the CII has suggested the need for classifying zones as ‘containmen’t, ‘orange’ and ‘green’ within an industrial district.
“Economic activities, in varying degrees of relaxation, should be permitted in all areas of this district but health and safety protocols would differ from zone to zone,” it said. The containment zone may be a street, “mohalla” or factory building where positive cases have been detected, the industry body said. It has suggested that close surrounding areas can be classified as ‘orange zones’ where industrial activity can be continued with strict precautionary measures and monitoring.
The distinction of essential and non-essential items should be removed and all factories should be permitted to restart, the industry body said. “Aggressive measures are required to ensure that an industrial district moves from ‘red’ to ‘orange’ and ‘green’ within 21 days. “The cost of undertaking precautionary measures by way of repeated sanitation, wearing of PPE, masks, monitoring, group testing etc. will be much less than the economic loss, if businesses in such high performing districts have to remain shut for longer duration,” Banerjee said.
The government has permitted industrial estates, SEZ and industrial townships with restricted entry within urban areas of ‘red zones’ to commence operations. “CII submitted that all industrial units, including in non-notified industrial areas and standalone units, be allowed to function in urban areas. These should include non-essential goods and services as well,” the statement said.
The body also called for limited public transport to function to enable workers and self-employed people to reach the industrial areas. ‘Green’ zones within an industrial district, on other hand, should be allowed to work with relaxed restrictions but in adherence to strict health and safety protocols prescribed by the authorities.