Some of the large cement manufacturers have started proceeding to reopen their manufacturing facilities after taking necessary approvals from the government and also after putting in place requisite safety measures for the workers & employees at the plant and office to prevent spread of Covid-19.
For example, JK Cement has partially commenced its operations at its manufacturing unit in Karnataka and soon is expected to commence operations in UP unit. The company is also seeking permission from the government to commence operations in its units in MP, Rajasthan and Haryana. “..taking cognizance of the Governments’ views around resuming manufacturing activities with controlled entry and exit facilities, and in light of the Ministry of Home Affairs (“MHA”) Order dated 15th April, 2020 and after obtaining necessary permissions as required, operations at some of the Company’s locations are being partially resumed,” said Ultratech Cement in a release to the exchanges. Similarly, Ambuja Cements too has stated that it is taking necessary permissions/approvals from the relevant Government authorities for resumption of operations at various locations from 20th April, 2020 in a phased Manner.
However, analysts and experts are not fully convinced about the current steps being taken by various cement companies. “While the resumption of production is incrementally positive, clarity on demand from user entities will be key” said an analyst of a foreign broking firm. According to him, there are few concerns which could hinder an immediate pick-up.
The most important issue will be that of migrant labour who have gone back to their native villages. There being no means of transportation (Railways have not resumed their services) their returning to construction site is almost impossible and in the absence of construction workers its impossible to resume construction activities at the site. Construction is the main source of demand for the workers.
Availability of trucks and their smooth movement could also be an issue. However, the government is taking some steps in this regard and has also allowed the opening of Dhabas and repair shops on highways.
Therefore, government’s responsibility doesn’t end in just giving permission for manufacturing units to resume their operations but also have to take necessary incidental steps too to facilitate smooth functioning of the facilities.