Over 200 companies in Pune’s industrial belt of Chakan, Talegaon, Kurkumb, Baramati and Ranjangaon have resumed operations after restrictions were eased on Monday, even as the lockdown continues. Bajaj Auto resumed operations at its Chakan plant on Tuesday. Bharat Forge said it will commence partial operations at its Baramati plant. M&M has started pre-production activities at its Chakan plant. Škoda Auto Volkswagen India has resumed work with 300 people at its Chakan plant upgradation programme, which was stopped abruptly, and it will start production by May 17.
RSB Transmission India started operations at its Sanaswadi plant. Zamil Steel India re-opened its plant in Ranjangaon and even made one it its first dispatches post lockdown. Food companies’ plants are also restarting operations, and these included Ferrero Rocher’s plant in Baramati, Mars International India’s plant in Khed, Cargill Foods’ plant at Kurkumbh and Coca-Cola’s plant in Pirangut.
Alakesh Roy, MD of Zamil Steel, said it was a relief to restart operations and both MIDC and the state government had done well to clear the decks for industry, and because of this many companies had either opened up or were in the process of opening up.
Those companies that are not dependent on a large external supply chain have started but they can operate only one shift, he said. The immediate focus was on maintenance, mapping manpower and new standard operating procedures. By next week, work would gain momentum, Roy said. The government could offer more relaxation of restrictions and allow more manpower movement to accelerate this process, Roy said. While the labour issue could be tackled, working capital and cash flows would be a challenge, Roy added.
Industry on Monday was allowed by the district collectorate to start operations without any formal process or special passes as long as they were located outside the containment zones. However, employee and worker movement to or from the containment zones has not been permitted. Companies that have their plants located in the containment zone within the Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad municipal corporation limits were not allowed to resume operations.
Tata Motors, Thermax, Thyssenkrupp Industrial, KSB Pumps, Alfa Laval, Sandvik Asia and Bharat Forge’s Pune plant are among those that have not resumed operations.
A cluster of automotive MSMEs located in the Bhosari, Pimpri, Chinchwad, Dapodi and Kasarwadi areas continue to be under extended lockdown. Arvind Goel, MD and CEO, Tata AutoComp Systems and chairman of CII Maharashtra, said while there was clarity at the top level of government as far as Maharashtra industries department and MIDC was concerned, but it was not the same at the ground level.
Goel said industry is not able to start in right earnest as the local tehslidar and police were interpreting things differently and companies will have to deal with multiple agencies, so restarting would be difficult. Not everybody will start till there is greater clarity as industry does not have the appetite to fight with so many agencies, Goel said.
If companies in the containment zone cannot start, the entire chain cannot be completed, so the state and local governments should look at micro containment clusters rather than the entire zone, Goel suggested.
Tata Motors for instance has its plant in the PCMC area of Pimpri and it cannot start operations so their suppliers too cannot start operations, Goel pointed out. So this was not a practical solution and the entire system will have to operate at the same time.
Companies such as Maruti and Hyundai cannot start operations unless supplier companies in Pune start operations, but they will not keep waiting for ever for industry to start and will look for alternatives which will mean business would go away, Goel warned. If companies do not start now, many of them will never be able to restart operations and this would be suicidal, he said. People will lose jobs and those with jobs may not get salaries for April if operations does not start in May, Goel said. So it was best for the government to look at micro zones and cordon off only those areas, and not cordon entire industries like this, Goel suggested.