As the Jammu and Kashmir Government is fighting to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, it has implemented several precautionary and preventive measures. The lockdown that was announced in late March has left a deep impact on the social and economic sectors. As the administration is dealing with ensuring the safe return of stranded people of J&K from other parts of the country, at the same time it is working 24*7 to ensure that the economic impact due to lockdown is minimized.
The Department of Industries and Commerce, Government of Jammu and Kashmir is leaving no stone unturned to mitigate the hardship being faced by the public. The role of the Department has become all the more crucial as the industries constitute the backbone of our economy and keeping them running during the lockdown to ensure that the supplies of essential items, medicines, masks etc does not run out from the market was a big challenge. In order to ensure uninterrupted supply of essential commodities, during the first phase of the lockdown, all the industries involved in their manufacturing were allowed to function as per the SOP issued by Department of Disaster Management, Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction.
Speaking about the initiatives, Director Industries and Commerce, Anoo Malhotra said that the department is ensuring hassle-free operation of food processing industries, flour mills, milk product industries etc She further informed that the agro-industries have been allowed to function during these times, considering the seasonal nature of the agricultural sector. “In addition to these the pharma units have also been allowed to run to ensure there is no shortage of life-saving medicines in the market”. Packaging units which cater to essential commodity units are also kept functional.
In the second phase of the lockdown, industries are allowed to function on case to case basis. All the industries falling in rural areas have been allowed to function to stem the tide of rural labour migration. The cold storage units and ware houses are also allowed to function. As of today 4802 units, (2727 in Jammu division and 2075 in Kashmir Division) are functional including large scale, MSMEs and micro enterprises
The Government has allowed the industries to operate only after ensuring strict enforcement of social distancing norms in factory premises. The I&C department has allowed the industries to work at 30% of their staff strength, except the pharma sector which has been allowed to function at 60 % of its staff strength. Further, the unit holders have been advised to ensure that masks and sanitizers are provided to the employees. Department of Handloom and KVIB are also manufacturing masks and providing them to the various sectors.
As per the SOP being followed by the industries, separate areas have been earmarked for unloading/loading of trucks bringing raw material from outside the UT. Quarantining of the truck drivers is also being done. The unit holders have been asked to ensure that all the labourer living in the premises are being provided with hygienic food and sanitary living conditions. In order to ensure hygiene, fumigation drives are also being carried by the J&KSIDCO and J&KSICOP in their respective industrial estates. The General Managers are regularly inspecting the units so as to ensure all the norms are being adhered to. A robust mechanism has also been devised by the Department for redressal of the grievance of the unit holders. In order to ensure smooth movement, the GMs have been asked to coordinate with respective Deputy Commissioners to provide movement passes to the unit holders. Health camps and inspections are also being conducted regularly by the department to ensure all SOP’s are being adhered to by the unit holders. To ensure the continuity of the supply chains, the units are functioning in shifts. Industries in the UT have also come forward in a big way to provide free ration and essentials to the needy under CSR initiative.
Commissioner/Secretary, Industries and Commerce Department, Manoj Dwivedi who is coordinating all the activities of the Industries and Commerce Department, has reviewed the clearance of outstanding dues of MSMEs and JK Cements pending with other departments by 15th of this month. He has instructed for daily reporting of the clearance of the outstanding amount so that the MSMEs and JK Cement Unit which are facing severe liquidity crunch can be revived.