With Government relaxing lockdown measures to permit gradual resumption of activity in certain sectors, Industries & Commerce Department in Kashmir Division has been taking steps to resume industrial activity in areas which are not designated as Red Zones. Priority is being given to restart units manufacturing essential commodities and medical supplies. The efforts are aimed to give some impetus to the economy by resuming industrial and manufacturing activities in Kashmir.
Major activity has been seen in the functioning of the cold stores. “We have restored industrial activity and more importantly the fruit that was lying in cold stores was a concern and now about 1450 trucks have left from cold stores to Delhi and other terminal markets”, said Director Industries & Commerce Kashmir, Mehmood Ahmad Shah.
“There are 31 CA stores holding about 25000 MT of apple and this fruit would be gradually exported to fruit markets till the middle of June”, he added.
Regulating the supplies of fruit produce to terminal markets is bound to fetch remunerative prices for the dealers as there were concerns that due to extended lock down, the apples may be sold locally at throwaway prices. This holds promise for future of cold store industry in Kashmir which would benefit the growers and dealers alike as the problem of glut in the apple market can be averted by regulating supply to the terminal markets.
“About 80 packaging units manufacturing card board boxes are also functional. By allowing cold stores and cardboard units to resume operations, the fruit crop would get the much-needed packaging and marketing support. In next 10 to 15 days, cherry season is going to start. Both cold stores and cardboard packaging units shall cater to the cherry crop and benefit the growers and fruit dealers. Since the shelf life of cherry is very short, this year more emphasis will be on the canning of the products to increase its shelf life”, Director Industries said.
Similarly to give a fillip to the construction sector, cement plants, brick kilns and stone crusher plants have also been allowed to restart with in-house labour. Giving details, Director Industries Kashmir said that cement factories were initially asked to dispatch their existing stock and now they have commenced manufacture of cement as well.
“Besides, wood-based industrial units comprising plywood factories and veneer plants have also been allowed to function with necessary precautions in place for workers. This would resume export of plywood and allied wood-based products to outside markets”, he added.
These developments come in the wake of Government permitting manufacturing activities in the Industrial Estates and notifying the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for regulating industrial activities. The guidelines allow limited manufacturing activity of essential commodities like basic food processing items like rice, flour, milk, bread packed food items, baby food products, packaged drinking water, medicines, soaps, sanitizers, disinfectants, cotton masks etc.
Industrial Units have been asked to make arrangements for the stay of workers within the premises, maintaining proper hygiene, ensuring frequent cleaning and use of masks and social distancing.
Industries department has been proactive to engage with the Industrial units and has held parleys with various industrial associations to resolve their issues. “Even when the lockdown initially came into force, the decision was taken to allow operation of Units involved in manufacture and processing of essential food commodities, medical items and milk processing units were also allowed to function from first week of April. A survey of Industrial Estates was carried out to identify the idle workforce and utilise the available labour”, according to a statement released by the Industries department. ‘’Besides, small cottage industries which mostly operate from households are also functioning and contributing to the supply of essential commodities’’, the statement added.
A slew of measures have been taken to provide a conducive environment to the industrial units to function like tie up with railways to avail parcel and freight services, issuance of movement passes, fumigation drives in Industrial Estates and distribution of masks and sanitizers among workers.
To meet the demand of masks, Handloom Corporation and Khadi & Village Industries Board have also been mobilised to produce masks and 28 units are engaged in producing about 54500 masks per day and a total of 9.50 lakh masks have been supplied till date as per the official statement issued by Industries & Commerce Department.
Director Industries and Commerce Kashmir, Mehmood Ahmad Shah also lauded the CSR initiatives taken by Industrialists to supplement the efforts of the Government in the fight against Covid-19. He said that Unitholders of Industrial Estate Lassipora have contributed Rupees Five Lakh to set up a quarantine centre in the Estate and five Covid- 19 Testing Booths have been donated by the owner of a prominent steel manufacturing plant from IE Rangreth which have been provided to the hospitals. One decontamination tunnel has also been installed at Sanat Ghar Bemina as a part of CSR initiative, he added.