Pune Industrial hub comes to grinding halt

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Published: March 24, 2020 1:20:40 AM

Industrial activities have come to a grinding halt in the region from Monday evening with majority of the manufacturing companies halting production.

Large scale industrial closure follows direction by Maharashtra’s industries director and Pune’s divisional commissioner to industries to shut operations till March 31, 2020 to control the contagion.

Companies in Pune, Pimpri Chinchwad, Chakan-Talegaon and Ranjangaon, the major industrial hubs in the region have fallen in line and announced closure of their plants as the Maharashtra state government has started imposing stringent measures to cope with the corona outbreak. Industrial activities have come to a grinding halt in the region from Monday evening with majority of the manufacturing companies halting production. Section 144 has been imposed across Maharashtra, all the district borders within the state have been sealed and movement between districts restricted. All private vehicle movements, barring essential and emergency services, in Pune have been banned from Monday 6 pm onwards. The Mumbai-Pune Expressway too has been shut with barricades at both entry and exit points.

Large scale industrial closure follows direction by Maharashtra’s industries director and Pune’s divisional commissioner to industries to shut operations till March 31, 2020 to control the contagion. Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad have so far reported 29 positive cases. A few companies stopped production on Saturday while others shut from Monday evening onwards. The small scale industries shut down operations from Saturday evening itself. Mahindra & Mahindra, Bajaj Auto, Thermax, Bosch Chassis, Force Motors, Tata Motors, Mercedes Benz and General Motors are among them.

Bajaj Auto has said it will shut its Chakan, Akurdi and Aurangabad plant from March 24 to 31. Rajiv Bajaj, Bajaj Auto MD, has indicated that for now plants are shut till end of the month but he envisaged this to be a eight week haul and could extend to another two to three weeks with situation changing both in the domestic and export markets. Rakesh Sharma, ED, Bajaj Auto, said they will strictly implement government directives and guidelines. “Our corporate office and factory at Chakan will be shut down in line with the local instructions and the bare minimum will be manning for maintaining essential services,” Sharma said.

Thermax shut operations at its Chinchwad plant after the second shift finished work on Saturday, March 21, and production will remain closed till further notice, the company told its employees. According to Thermax MD, MS Unnikrishnan, even before formal directions could come in, the company had been implementing work from home two weeks ago. They were working with 50% attendance at their Pune office and at 100% WFM at their regional offices across India, Unnikrishnan said. The company had expected this kind of total lockdown in the country and was preparing for this.

Mercedes-Benz India has suspended the majority of production at its manufacturing plant located in Chakan from March 21 to 31 due to the worsening situation of the Covid-19 pandemic. “Mercedes-Benz India’s leadership team is constantly evaluating the situation and will decide on further measures as required. Full operations will resume when the situation improves,” the company said. Mercedes-Benz would ensure continuity of services for customers by the dealerships and service centres.

General Motors too suspended production at the Talegaon plant to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The suspension of production began on Saturday, March 21, 2020 and will run until Tuesday, March 31, 2020. Asif Khatri, VP, manufacturing, GM India, said these steps were necessary in the fight against the spread of Covid-19.

Force Motors on Friday decided to not run its plant operations from March 21, 2020 due to disruption of supply chain due to the coronavirus situation. The company said the plant would resume operations on April 1, 2020 and work in the first shift. Bosch Chassis Systems India announced closure of its Chakan plant from March 23 onwards and will remain shut till March 31, 2020. The company has said operations will resume on April 1, 2020 and this is subject to the prevailing situation at that time and till then essential services such as security, utilities, repairs & maintenance, warehouse, canteen and medical services will remain operational at Botch Chassis. Management staff will be working from home.

Mahindra and Mahindra, on Sunday, announced that the company has decided to suspend the manufacturing operations at their Nagpur plant with immediate effect and Chakan (Pune) and Kandivali (Mumbai) from Monday night onwards. 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 have 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.

Similarly, Volkswagen India, Fiat’s Ranjangaon plant, JCB, ASAL,Premium Transmission, ThyssenKrupp, Jaya Hind and Wilo Mather Platt, among others, have followed suit, bringing the entire industrial hub to a grinding halt.

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