Allow Greater Industrial Activities in Major Economic Districts: CII

New Delhi: The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) called for economic contribution of districts to be taken into consideration while classifying Lockdown Zones. Districts with high economic activity should resume all industrial and business operations, including in Containment Zones with highest safety protocols, said CII in its report ‘A Strategy Note on Resumption of Economic Activities in Industrial Areas’ submitted to the Government. The submission follows the notification issued on 1 May by the Government on graded exit from the Covid-19 related lockdown.

“The third phase of lockdown necessitates a focused strategy to minimize economic contraction due to Covid-19, without compromising on efforts to control the contagion. Prioritizing districts with heavy presence of economic and industrial activities with continued operations accompanied by strictest precautions can help enterprises to remain financially sustainable while averting job losses,” stated Mr Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII.

While the protracted lockdown in the country, necessitated by the rapid spread of COVID-19, has helped in controlling the spread of epidemic and given us time to augment medical capacity, it has also caused enormous stress to the financial sustainability of many businesses, said CII in a press statement.

In its strategy note, CII requested that the top districts should be identified based on variables like their contribution to country’s GDP, or presence of industrial estates & clusters or registration of enterprises in a district.

Instead of the current practice of classifying the entire district as a Red zone, CII has suggested the need for classifying zones as Containment, Orange and Green within an industrial district. Economic activities, in varying degrees of relaxation, should be permitted in all areas of this district but health and safety protocols would differ from zone to zone.

The Containment Zone may be a street, mohalla or factory building where positive cases have been detected, said CII. CII has suggested that close surrounding areas can be classified as Orange Zones where industrial activity can be continued with strict precautionary measures and monitoring. The distinction of essential and non-essential items should be removed and all factories should be permitted to restart, according to CII.

In containment zones, industrial units where no positive cases exist, can be allowed to operate if workers can be restricted to the premises or within walkable distance, as per the CII note. Raw materials and finished goods should be disinfected and kept separately for 72 hours before use as permissible by health authorities.

Maximum precautions and safety measures in the form of masks, repeated sanitation, restricted movement of people and vehicles and group testing, among others, can be carried out regularly in such Containment Zones, noted CII.

“Aggressive measures are required to ensure that an industrial district moves from Red to Orange and Green within 21 days. The cost of undertaking precautionary measures by way of repeated sanitation, wearing of PPE, Masks, monitoring, group testing etc. will be much less than the economic loss if businesses in such high performing districts have to remain shut for longer duration,” stated Mr Banerjee.

The Government notification of 1 May has permitted industrial estates, SEZ and industrial townships with restricted entry within urban areas of Red Zones to commence operations. CII submitted that all industrial units, including in non-notified industrial areas and standalone units, be allowed to function in urban areas. These should include non-essential goods and services as well.

CII also called for limited public transport to function to enable workers and self-employed people to reach the industrial areas.

Green zones within an industrial district, on other hand, should be allowed to work with relaxed restrictions but following strictly the health & safety protocols prescribed by the health authorities.

There should be a real time availability of data on all types of zones within the industrial districts. The authorities may also provide updated information on Aarogya Setu app, other apps, local newspapers, radio, TV and online channels, stated CII.

The CII strategy note prescribes standard operating procedures for offices, workplaces, factories and establishments prior to resuming operations, after resuming operations, and guidelines for social distancing and visitor management.