As all the business operation is on a standstill due to the extension in the Coronavirus lockdown till May 3, Maharashtra industries minister Subhash Desai on Thursday indicated that the State government may allow the reopening of industrial activities from April 20 in, the areas where no COVID-19 patient has been found so far.
During Prime Minister Narendra Modi's national address on Tuesday, he asserted that certain relaxation on lockdown guidelines will be given to States/districts with no positive COVID-19 cases. Maharashtra has recorded the maximum number of coronavirus cases so far with the lockdown in force since March 25 to keep a check on COVID-19 spread.
Desai made the announcement after holding a special meeting with a group of senior bureaucrats from the industries and health department. The State is preparing a draft proposal on how to resume, industrial activities in the areas where we have not found any cases of COVID-19, he said.
In an official statement, Desai said, "In the areas where no COVID-19 cases have been found, the industrial activities are likely to resume from April 20 onwards.We will give the permissions within the framework set by the Union government. The decision will be taken only after consultation with local medical staff, district collectors, industrial officers and owners of the units".
Desai also informed that the proposal will be submitted to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray soon for his approval. We are hopeful that industries would resume their work around April 20. Those who have no job at present, some of them could start earning as well. Their tension would get reduced to some extent, Desai added.
Emphasising on the agricultural sector, the Shiv Sena minister said that agriculture will remain a focussed area for the government. Within the plan of resuming industrial activities, our priority would be to agriculture-allied industries. Farmers need support in such a situation as well, he said. The Centre on Wednesday permitted states to undertake some activities that would set the wheels of the economy moving. A review meeting in this regard was held on Thursday along with the stakeholders, Desai said.
Desai also opined that Industries wanting to start operations will have to take certain measures like in-house accommodation for workers. Factories can even arrange transportation for their employees. If small and medium scale companies in the MIDC areas come together, some accommodation for workers can be provided and these units can resume production and processing, he said.
"If an industry can arrange accommodation for its workers within its premises, it will be given priority by the state to resume work. This measure will ensure no infection from outsidecomes to the industrial unit," said the minister.
Maharashtra has 36 districts. There are six districts with no case, while there are some 14 districts where a handful of COVID-19 positive patients have been found. Maharashtra has so far recorded 3,202 coronavirus cases and 194 deaths.
(With inputs from Agency)