Umesh Mishra and his friends were busy discussing the night’s menu for their team. Assembling near the closed gates of LG India Electronics’ manufacturing plant at Greater Noida’s Udyog Vihar Extension, the group of transport workers were in no hurry to take up their next assignment.
As the town undergoes a total lockdown, they could afford to spend the day chatting. Operations at the plant, which manufactures large appliances like refrigerators and washing machines, have been suspended till March 25.
Apart from a couple of security personnel at its entrance, none turned up on Monday. The deserted look that it was wearing on Monday afternoon was quite a sight. This is in stark contrast to the frequent movement of over 200 trucks, hundreds of workers and roadside vendors that used to jostle around.
Mishra, who hails from Bihar’s Muzaffarpur, blames his fate. Like many other peers in his profession, he would have been on the move with his loaded truck by now. But with a lockdown in place, the state transport department has not yet given transport permit to his vehicle. “We are waiting for green light for our vehicle that was loaded with refrigerators on Sunday,” he said.
Attendants at the fuel station, just opposite the Power Spack plant in the vicinity, are bored. The station that used to serve over 500 trucks and hundreds of passenger vehicles a day is now attracting only over 50 cars. Nearly half of the attendants have been asked to stay at home.
The sight at the Oppo India manufacturing plant, about 10 kilometres interior to the LG plant, is lonelier. The three security men behind its closed gates were attempting to sanitize the area with a motorised cleaning equipment. About 100 metres away, over a dozen abandoned trucks were parked and a few grazing buffalos were around. With people staying away from public places as well as workplaces and markets shut, traffic cops in the region are much relieved.
Their estimates suggest that over 90 per cent vehicles are off road and no road accidents have been reported in the Noida-Greater Noida belt in the past 24 hours.
The usually busy Greater Noida expressway is empty except small groups of commuters that gather at its sidelines, seeking lift from every passing vehicle. As public transport comes to halt, with metro and bus services suspended, most of them have no other option but to walk back home.
Television manufacturer SuperPlastronics has suspended activities at its three manufacturing units in Noida, Jammu and Una, said Avneet Singh Marwah, its chief executive.
According to Kamal Nandi, vice-president at Godrej Appliances, the firm has closed down both its plants — at Mohali (Chandigarh) and Shirwal (Maharashtra) — apart from warehouses and offices.
Samsung and Vivo, too, have suspended operations at their plants in Noida. A Samsung India spokesperson said the company has asked employees at all its R&D centres, sales and marketing offices to work from home. Further, it suspended production at its second plant in Chennai.
Salcomp, which took over the defunct Nokia facility, has suspended operations at its Sriperumbudur plant, near Chennai, said its managing director, Sasikumar Gendham.
According to sources, electronics manufacturer Flex has asked its employees to work from home and suspended manufacturing activities at its plant in Tamil Nadu.
Havells India has instructed plant heads to continuously assess the ground situation and follow advisories issued by the authorities.
Traffic at major entry points like Pari Chawk at Greater Noida and on DND Flyover in Noida, however, is not in free flow though. Here, police personnel were checking every vehicle before they were allowed to move towards Delhi. As a result, long stretches of vehicular traffic have chocked the points.