As the country prepares to lift the 21-day lockdown which was imposed in the wake of coronavirus, the government must now also look at restarting production in certain sectors which deal in the making of essential commodities.
As the country prepares to lift the 21-day lockdown which was imposed in the wake of coronavirus, the government must now also look at restarting production in certain sectors which deal in the making of essential commodities. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked his ministers to “ensure staggered re-emergence of the population”, the focus should now shift from sorting out distributional issues to producing essential items as manufacturing has come to a grinding halt in the last few days of lockdown. However, the larger question now remains as to how to ensure manufacturing while also keeping risk of infection low, Harish Damodaran and Nushaiba Iqbal wrote in The Indian Express.
One way to monitor these factories is by using data from the National Sample Survey Office’s Annual Survey of Industries (ASI). While many industries such as leather belt and garment makers in Mumbai’s Dharavi or Delhi’s Gandhi Nagar do not remain in official data, the ASI has information on all organised manufacturing establishments with power connection that employ at least 10 workers, and on those establishments as well which engage 20 and more workers without the aid of power. There are about 1.95 lakh operational factories across India and employ about 1.56 crore persons, according to latest figures.
Further, the spread of coronavirus is more pronounced in some areas and in many cases, the states which are key to manufacturing do not have a great number of reported cases. For instance, Gujarat, which has the largest share in factory output, ranks 11 in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases. On the other hand, Delhi, which has the third highest number of coronavirus cases, isn’t even among the country’s top 20 manufacturing states. Other industrial centres such as Kutch, Jamnagar, Bharuch and Mehsana in Gujarat; Raigad and Aurangabad in Maharashtra; Bhilai, Raigarh and Korba in Chhattisgarh have recorded very few cases.
However, apart from ensuring social distancing, the producers also currently have to deal with constraints of labour and trucks. Hence, there is an urgent need that the government signals its intention to allow some manufacturing units to reopen after the lockdown lifts so that the manufacturers get a heads up to re-mobilise labour and logistical resources.