Industries hobbled by curbs on mobility of men, material 

#GS3 #Economy 

Waive permits in non-containment zones, urges CII  

  • Almost half of the industries which have been allowed to reopen still face hurdles in obtaining permits to function and passes for employees, according to a Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) survey.   
  • Over 60% of surveyed companies also said movement of inputs and finished goods is still disrupted.  
  • The industry group demanded that businesses should be allowed to function without need of permits in non-containment areas, with workers allowed to commute to work in their own vehicles on the basis of a letter issued by the employer without need of a government pass.  
  • The Centre has slowly been easing restrictions, first allowing the reopening of essential sector businesses and then permitted industries located in rural areas, as well as certain sectors including construction, information technology and hardware, to begin work subject to certain restrictions.  

180 companies 

  • Nationwide, 180 companies participated in the CII survey, which was conducted on April 23 and 24, a few days after the latest round of relaxations came into effect on April 20.  
  • Asked whether permits to operate were easily available for the sectors which were allowed to function, 19% of companies said permits were not available to them, while 27% said they had faced delays.  
  • CII suggested that permits may be granted on a self-certification basis by State governments, at least in areas which are not hotspots of infection.  
  • Difficulties in transport — of both men and materials — have created a major bottleneck. Workers at functional units require passes from the government to move around. Only 36% of respondents said passes were readily provided, and 67% said the daily commute was problematic.  
  • Only 15% of companies said that movement of raw materials and finished goods was taking place smoothly.  
  • Almost 40% of companies faced delays and disruptions, while 23% said such movement was not taking place at all.   
  • Even those businesses which have restarted work are still functioning at partial strength. Only 10% of plants were functioning at more than 50% of their full capacity, while only 9% of firms have more than half their workers back on site.  

Red tape stalls return of bodies from Gulf 

Decision of Delhi airport officials, despite MHA nod, leaves envoy shocked 

  • Families awaiting the remains of their loved ones from Abu Dhabi, who had died by causes other than COVID-19, spent another agonising night on Sunday, after three bodies were sent back to the UAE by immigration authorities in Delhi on Friday.  
  • Officials said they hoped that the bodies of Kamlesh Bhatt, Sanjeev Kumar and Jagsir Singh would arrive again early on Monday by an Etihad Airlines flight, after the government reversed its decision to ban coffins being brought back as a part of air cargo due to the coronavirus pandemic.  
  • Mr. Bhatt's cousin Vimlesh Bhatt, who had even filed a petition with the High Court in Delhi over the issue, said he was driving back to Delhi for the second time in three days, undertaking the seven hour drive from Tehri in the hope that the body would be allowed to come back to India on Monday morning.  
  • While one of the victims had died in a car accident, the other two suffered heart attacks. But despite appeals from the Indian Embassy and airline officials that they were not COVID-19 patients, officials refused to hand them over to their families, who had driven down from Uttarakhand and Punjab despite lockdown restrictions, to collect the remains.  

Ambassador anguished 

  • “We feel extremely sorry for the families of these three men,” India’s Ambassador to the UAE Pavan Kapoor told The Hindu, expressing shock at the way the bodies were returned summarily to the UAE by airport authorities.  
  • On Saturday, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued a memorandum (No.25022/06/2020-Imm) revoking the earlier ban and said bodies and mortal remains would be permitted “subject to strict adherence to the guidelines ...regarding management of COVID-19 and submission of a no objection approval/concurrence from Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and MEA”.  
  • However, the Health Ministry is yet to issue the required SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures), which officials say is delaying matters further.  
  • Almost 40% of companies faced delays and disruptions, while 23% said such movement was not taking place at all. Even those businesses which have restarted work are still functioning at partial strength. Only 10% of plants were functioning at more than 50% of their full capacity, while only 9% of firms have more than half their workers back on site. “The return of workers is critical to commencing business operations. Timely and effective transport and safety strategies are imperative to ensure that workers have the confidence to return to workplaces as well as commute on a daily basis,” said CII Director General Chandrajit Banerjee. Almost 70% of respondents expressed fear that they would face criminal cases if any of their workers tested positive.  
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