80% units in Punjab resume ops, but demand dip, labour shortage a worry
Of the total 2.59 lakh registered units, 2.07 lakh have restarted their production lines at limited capacity with reduced workforce while adhering to social distancing normsUpdated: Jun 01, 2020 01:45 IST
As state prepares to enter the lockdown 5.0 on Monday, 80% of the registered industrial units in Punjab reeling under the impact of the global pandemic, are slowly lumbering back on track.
Of the total 2.59 lakh registered units, 2.07 lakh have restarted their production lines at limited capacity with reduced workforce while adhering to social distancing norms. Though 80% industrial units have become operational, about two-thirds of the workers – 13.65 lakh – are back at work as per the data compiled by the state industries department. The registered units employed 20.29 lakh workers before the coronavirus-induced curfew forced them to down their shutters more than two months ago.
Bulk of these units resumed production during the 15-day lockdown 4.0 period, which commenced on May 17, as restrictions were eased by the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) whereas only 17,301, or say 6.6%, factories were working till then. The state government’s decision to permit all tiny and cottage units in non-containment zones and simplification of the process of granting permissions also helped the industrial units resume their operations.
53% FACTORIES OPERATING WITH LESS THAN 10 WORKERS
About 1.1 lakh, or say 53%, of the factories are operating currently with less than 10 workers, according to official data. Another 71,020 units are operating with 10 to 25 workers and the remaining 25,913 have more than 25 workers each.
Industries director Sibin C said as per the feedback received from the industry, there are several issues related to labour deficiency, supply chain disruption and availability of raw material for several manufactures. “These are fallouts of lockdown and will take some time to stabilise. As for the units which are still to start their production, we have asked general managers of district industries centres to find out so that difficulties, if any, can be removed,” he said.
In the state’s industrial hub of Ludhiana, which is home to 95,202 units, 74,271 have resumed productions and 40% of them are small and cottage factories running their operations with less than 10 workers each. In Jalandhar and Amritsar, the percentage of operational industrial units is higher at 94 and 82%, respectively.
INDUSTRY REMAINS ON EDGE
Despite the revival of business activity in most parts of the country, though slowly, the industry has worries on several fronts. PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI) chairman, Punjab, Karan Gilhotra said labour shortage, disruption in supply chain and decline in demand were a serious challenge for the industry even though their impact varies from sector to sector.
“There are also issues related to the availability of raw material, orders are getting cancelled and stocks piling up. If demand does not up pick up soon, things are going to get tougher for the industry in days to come. It is a vicious circle,” said the member of a group of experts set up to develop post-Covid economic strategy for Punjab, citing the examples of automobile and textile sectors.
Echoing similar sentiments, Federation of Industrial and Commercial Organisation (FICO) president Gurmeet Singh Kular termed the drop in demand and labour availability as his biggest concerns. “There is hardly any market demand and the situation is bad. There is need to infuse liquidity to get the economy going and give a boost to market demand. The state government first announced relief in electricity bills, but then decided to recover the amount in a staggered manner every month from June 1,” said Kular who is in cycle parts manufacturing business.