In order to mitigate the hardship to the public in the backdrop of COVID-19, the Department of Disaster Management, Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction (State Executive Committee) Government of Jammu and Kashmir notified Standard Operating Procedure for regulating activities of industries /industrial /commercial /private establishments in pursuance to measures being taken up during lockdown.
As per the order, the Industries & Commerce Department has been vested with the authority for issuance of orders to permit operation of industrial units. The SOP has specified the categories of the industry to be permitted to operate during the period of lockdown which included Essential Commodities comprising Basic Food processing activities, Packaged processed food items, Pharmaceuticals, Soaps, disinfectant and detergents, Agro products, Packaging Material, Cold Storages, Packaged Drinking water and Cotton Masks.
In addition, some activities have also been permitted on case to case basis like Repair of transformers and Parts thereof, production of cardboard/ wooden boxes for apple/ fruit packing, Industries operating in rural areas, Brick Kilns in rural areas and production units requiring continuous manufacturing process. Besides, manufacturing activities within the Industrial Estates have been allowed on case to case basis where the arrangement for stay of workers is possible within the premises or an adjacent building.
Besides, the units manufacturing Medical/Health infrastructure items, Sanitization Tunnels/ fumigation Tunnels are also to be permitted to operate on case to case basis if existing within the Industrial Estates. Specific manufacturing activities, if essential, for meeting requirement of the Government and projects like development/construction and other works of industrial estates are also to be permitted.
Likewise, services including Print and electronic media, IT & ITES, Data and Call Centres for Government activities only, CSCs, e-com companies, Courier Services, Cold Storage & warehousing, Private Security Services, Hotels & Home Stays accommodating persons stranded due to lockdown and establishments used for quarantine facilities would to be permitted to operate.
The Department of Industries & Commerce under the guidance of Commissioner Secretary, Industries & Commerce, has permitted 1007 industrial units to operate during the lockdown period in Jammu while as 468 units have been permitted in Kashmir as per provisions of the Standard Operating Procedure. Corresponding to the above 786 units have resumed their operation in Jammu whereas 455 units have become operational in Kashmir.
The Department has facilitated the operation of all Pharmaceuticals and Oxygen gas bottling units. Another category of units which have been permitted to operate included Flour Mills, Rice Mills, Oil Mills, Packaging Material, Dal & Besan, Animal/ Poultry Feed, Surgical bandage, Disposal Syringes, Cotton and Dental material, Packaged Drinking Water, Iodized Salt, Agrochemicals, Spices, Cold Storage Facilities, Milk Processing, Soap Detergents, Sanitization Tunnels, Food Processing, Steel Rolling Mills/ Furnaces, Plaster of Paris, Cement, Paints, PVC Granules, Mosquito Coils, Briquettes, Mattresses, Textiles, Cotton Masks etc.
The Industries & Commerce Department in unison with the Department of Food Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs has been able to ensure availability of essential commodities across J&K with effective maintenance of supply chain with no shortage of any item been reported from any part of J&K. The department has also facilitated the operation of some warehouses where the material was to be supplied for construction of Government projects like Steel Authority of India Ltd.
However, permission for operating these units has been granted on the condition of following Social distancing norms as specified by the government under the notified SOP. The commuting of workers has to be done with only 30% capacity of the mode of transport used. The owners are required to keep the premises properly sanitized. The workers have to undergo thermal screening twice a day and wear masks. Medical insurance of the workers has been made mandatory besides strict ban on use of Gutka and Tobacco inside the unit premises and provision of hand wash and Sanitizer at sufficient number of places inside the unit premises observed.
It has been stipulated that the units shall operate with not more than one-third of the staff and management to ensure the maintenance of Social Distancing at the workplace. Smaller units with a strength of fewer than 20 persons and units where the labour resides within the unit premises are kept out of the purview of this stipulation. Pharmaceutical units have been permitted to work with 60% of the workforce.
The officers of the Industries & Commerce Department, have been asked to inspect such units on weekly basis to monitor the observance of norms of social distancing and related measures, inspected 221 units in Jammu Division upon which on observation of discrepancy permission in respect of 01 unit has been withdrawn by the Director Industries & Commerce, Jammu.
On the directions of Commissioner Secretary Industries & Commerce, the J&K Handloom Development Corporation and Khadi & Village Industries Board (KVIB) have also mobilized their units to augment mask production for meeting the demand from various district authorities. About 8 Lakh masks have been manufactured by 28 units of the said Corporations after their operation during the lockdown.
J&K SIDCO and J&K SICOP are regularly carrying out fumigation and sanitation drives in all their estates on a regular basis to ensure proper hygiene in the estates.
The Industries & Commerce Department has also mobilized the Industrial units to come forward in CSR Activities. The Industrial Units have distributed sanitizer, masks and gloves. The activities also included making arrangements of food for workers and labourers in the industrial areas. Some units have also made a monetary contribution towards J&K Relief Fund and PM CARES to the tune of Rs 50 lakh besides a Quarantine facility has been set up in Industrial Estate Lassipora by the concerned Industrial Association. Likewise, 4 COVID Sample collection booths have been donated to the Health Department along with the installation of Sanitization tunnels.
The staff of Industries & Commerce Department including various Corporations has also come forward in fight against COVID Pandemic by making a contribution to J&K Relief Fund from their salary amounting Rs. 58.132 Lakh.
Meanwhile, Director Industries and Commerce, Jammu on 27-04-2020, conducted a surprise inspection of Industrial units at Industrial Growth Centre Samba and Industrial Estate Kathua to ascertain whether the units are following the guidelines prescribed under the Standard Operating Procedure issued by the Government, to ensure that the units are complying with the social distancing norms, maintaining proper hygiene in the unit premise and wearing of face masks by the employees.
The unitholders were advised to highlight guidelines and good hygienic practices in the shape of posters within the unit premises so that the workers are reminded of the same more frequently and in case they face hardship in getting the posters printed, the Federation of Industries, Jammu and other Associations have assured help to such units by getting the material printed.