Gujarat industries brace for financial crisis amid exodus of migrant workers
Of the 10 million migrant labourers in Gujarat, 60-70% are from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and West Bengal, making them the backbone of Gujarat industries.Updated: Oct 09, 2018 23:40 IST
Industry associations in Gujarat say that the exodus of migrant labourers, mainly from north Gujarat’s industrial belt, may affect 15% to 20% of the production in the crucial pre-Diwali period.
Armed state reserve police force are, meanwhile, patrolling manufacturing hubs such as Sanand Industrial Estate, Gujarat’s automobile and pharma hub, the worst affected by attacks on migrant workers and their subsequent exodus triggered by the rape of a 14-month-old in Sabarkantha last week.
Of the 10 million migrant labourers in Gujarat, 60-70% are from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and West Bengal, making them the backbone of Gujarat industries.
Small-scale industries in pockets of Ahmedabad and parts of Mehsana and Sabarkantha districts have been affected because part of the workforce, fearful of hate crimes, remained absent during the hectic work schedule just before the festive period, industry associations in the region said.
“There are some 20,000 workers engaged in auto ancillaries and pharma companies in Sanand (Ahmedabad district) out of which, around 10,000 are migrants. Around 15-20% of the total production has been affected as around 3,000 workers have reportedly gone back to their original villages or are staying back in their local homes,’’ said Ajit Shah, president of Sanand Industrial Estate.
Sanand Industrial Estate, which came into existence after Tata Motors Ltd moved its Nano car factory from West Bengal to Gujarat in 2008, has not seen a single attack on any migrant worker. These factories provide parts to auto companies like Tata Motors, Ford India and Hero MotoCorp.
“It is social media rumour that is keeping labourers on tenterhooks. We are going to appeal to the police chief to ban the Internet in the area for a few days,” said Shah, adding that on Monday, the sarpanchs of the Bor, Hirapar, Choral, Puvar and Rasoolpara villages, homes to migrant workers employed in Sanand Industrial Estate, were summoned by industrialists to caution them against rumors.
Apart from Sanand, districts like Sabarkantha, Patan and Aravali in north Gujarat are home to some 100 cotton ginning, ceramic, fertilizers and chemical units. The construction industry has also been partly affected as some migrants from Chandlodiya and Naroda from Ahmedabad and engaged in painting work have reportedly fled following threats.
“Gujarat is divided in industrial clusters, including Kutch, Saurashtra, central, north and south Gujarat. And, immigrants constitute around 30 % of total working force in the state. Kutch, Saurashtra and South are the driving force of the state economy. Exodus reported is from Ahmedabad and north Gujarat. And, it was only in the initial 2-3 days. Around 15% production could have been affected. There have been no reports of disturbances from other clusters,’’ said Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry(GCCI) president, Jamin Vasa.
“We have provided security cover at industrial units and residential colonies in affected areas. The administration is also conducting community meetings for confidence building,’’ said minister of state for home, Pradeepsinh Jadeja.
Around 42 attacks on migrant labourers have been reported till October 3 from September 28 — when a migrant identified as Raghuvir Sahu was arrested in Himmatnagar allegedly for raping a toddler from the Thakor community. The police have arrested 342 people, some of them members of state legislator Alesh Thakor’s Kshatriya Thakor Sena.