Lockdown 3.0: Several manufacturing firms resume operations; many retailers open shops, some face difficulties

On the retail front, it was a mixed bag with several shops reopening after days of being shut while some had to be closed early again due to intervention by local authorities.

Lockdown 3.0: Several manufacturing firms resume operations; many retailers open shops, some face difficulties

New Delhi: Several manufacturing firms across auto, textiles, breweries and fertilisers segments resumed operations and shops were also open in many parts of the country on Monday, amid relaxations on the first day of the third phase of the nationwide lockdown, even as some retailers complained of chaos due to different interpretation of orders by local authorities.

On the retail front, it was a mixed bag with several shops reopening after days of being shut while some had to be closed early again due to intervention by local authorities.

Traders' body CAIT claimed that only 20 per cent of its member shops in the permitted category could open in different states due to confusion and lack of clarity over the interpretation of neighbourhood shops and standalone shops at a local level.

On Monday, many manufacturers informed bourses about the partial resumption of their production facilities by adhering to mandated safety precautions. The companies also said they were waiting for approvals to start operations at other units.

The development comes after a recent notification from the Union Home Ministry, which has permitted companies to resume manufacturing operations and reopening of shops in red, green and orange zones with certain riders. The nationwide lockdown to curb spreading of coronavirus infections began on March 25 and has been extended till May 17.

The country's largest two-wheeler maker Hero MotoCorp said it has resumed operations in a graded manner across three of its manufacturing plants in Gurugram, Dharuhera (both in Haryana) and Haridwar (Uttarakhand), with actual product rollout expected to begin from Wednesday.

The company's Global Parts Centre (GPC) at Neemrana in Rajasthan has also resumed operations. Commercial vehicle maker SML Isuzu said it has received permission from Punjab government to start its manufacturing plant situated in district Shahid Bhagat Singh Nagar in Punjab even as it emphasised that "Work from Home Policy" will continue as per the government directions from time to time.

However, Retailers Association of India (RAI) said the reopening of shops was an "emotional roller coaster" with start-stop at various places due to "interpretation" of orders by local authorities. "It is an emotional roller coaster as expected. Happiness, that some retail stores are opening. Obviously sales are not expected to be normal. Plus (there is) start-stop at various places thanks to interpretation of orders," RAI CEO Kumar Rajagopalan told PTI.

Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said as per an assessment done on the basis of feedback received from various state trade leaders, only about 20 per cent shops in the permitted category could open in different states due to confusion and lack of clarity with respect to neighbourhood shops and standalone shops.

The home ministry order was interpreted by traders, state governments, district administration, and law enforcement authorities in their own way and that resulted in great chaos and confusion all over the country, which is very unfortunate at this crucial time of coronavirus pandemic, he noted.

"In states like Punjab and Uttarakhand, more than 50 per cent shops were allowed to open but in many states either the shops could not open or those which opened were asked to close down by the local authorities," Khandelwal said.

Federation of All India Vyapar Mandal National Secretary General V K Bansal lamented that while liquor shops are allowed to open, traders are being fined if they insist upon opening shops.

The home ministry needs to clarify whether its order is binding on states or not, he said claiming district magistrates and local police have issued their own orders.

Rajasthan-based Chambal Breweries and Distilleries informed exchanges about the resumption of operations. Automotive and industrial lubricants maker Castrol India said it has started operations at its plant in Silvassa in Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
Hardware manufacturer Cerebra Integrated Technologies said it has also resumed manufacturing operations at its two facilities in Karnataka and will gradually scale up its production.

Pune-based process and project engineering company Praj Industries has also resumed operations in certain areas, including the company's SEZ Unit II and Unit I at Kandla.

Similarly, Amines and Plasticizers Ltd, the largest producer of Ethanolamines, Alkyl Alkanolamines, Morpholine Derivatives, has partially resumed operations.

Ferroalloys manufacturer Nava Bharat has also started operations at plants situated in Paloncha, Telangana and Dhenkanal, Odisha, after receiving a nod from respective state governments. However, many others are yet to resume operations.

An official at auto components manufacturers' body ACMA said many of its members were yet to restart production. According to a Maruti Suzuki India official, the company has not resumed operations yet.

Auto industry bodies -- SIAM and ACMA -- and dealers' body FADA had called for allowing the entire value chain of the automobile industry to resume operations in unison stating availability of parts and ability to sell were critical for the industry.