Fearing a spike in cases, Shravan Hardikar, the PCMC municipal commissioner, had on Friday appealed to industry to voluntarily shut down industry for 20 days or at least till March 31.
The Maharashtra state government has directed industries in Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation areas as well as industrial estates to shut their factories to contain the spread of the coronavirus outbreak in the region. Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad together accounted for 23 of the 63 positive cases in Maharashtra till Saturday afternoon.
At a meeting held on Saturday by the state’s director of industries, Sadashiv Survase, officials of Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) Region I and II with companies and industry association updated companies of the situation and the need to shut factories. Survase told companies said these directions would have to be followed and factories have to shut down and they cannot violate these orders.
Fearing a spike in cases, Shravan Hardikar, the PCMC municipal commissioner, had on Friday appealed to industry to voluntarily shut down industry for 20 days or at least till March 31. But now there are firm orders to close. Industry is waiting for a formal circular from the state government, which is expected in a day or two, after which they said they would comply with the directions.
Rajesh Tope, Maharashtra’s health minister, had said that while while offices and factories have been asked to shut they would permit banks and their back office support, stock market, restaurants, medical equipment as well as consumables and manufacturing companies following continuous production such as pharma, their logistics support companies to continue operations.
Tata Motors was among the first to announce that they would be shutting their Pimpri plant. Guenter Butschek, MD of Tata Motor, told employees that they had in the interest of safety of employees decided to rapidly scale down activities to get to skeletal operation by end of March 23 and be ready for plant closure by Tuesday, March 24 and remain in this mode till March 31 and review it in due course. They are monitoring the situation in all the states where offices and plants are located and would take appropriate and proactive decision, Butschek said. The Pimpri-Chinchwad Small Industries Association has announced that they would stop operations from evening of Saturday, March 21. There are around 35,000 large and SMEs in this region.
PCMC area had the highest number of patients as well as highest concentration of the industries and hence members would productively consider and support closures to the best extent possible, Prashant Girbane, director general MCCIA, said. Bobby Kuriakose, director, HR, Forbes Marshall, said the industry understood the gravity of the situation and were fully supportive of it but wanted a gradual shut down. Alkesh Roy, chairman of the CII Pune Zonal council, said industry would definitely abide but certain industries have deadlines, export obligations and legal agreements to consider.
Roy said this scale down or shutting would impact cash flows as there will be no invoicing while companies with cash surplus would be able to manage salaries and wages but SMES would not be able to do this and there could be layoffs.