With the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) ordering a complete lockdown for one week, industry around the largely red zoned city faced some first day jitters on Thursday.
According to industry sources, with the civic administration and police personnel looking to contain the escalating novel coronavirus outbreak, on ground implementation saw some impact on travel of employees. While day one of the complete lockdown saw some impact, industry bodies have also reached out to concerned authorities to ensure that employees commuting from within the city to manufacturing units do not face any hurdles.
"It is only since April 20 relaxations that the industry is crawling back to some capacity utilisation. Still it stands at a mere 10-20 per cent of total capacity. Since the circular on complete lockdown mentions nothing about the industry we are hopeful that on-ground implementation will not impact industry personnel going forward," said Pathik Patwari, an office bearer at the Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) which has 4000 direct and over 300,000 indirect industry members.
"Despite pharma industry being part of essential services, it has been facing a major problem in terms of ground level execution by police personnel of government circulars. While the government has been looking to curtail only retail activity, awareness among police personnel has been of varied degree which has been affecting manpower and material flow for the industry," said Viranchi Shah, chairman - Gujarat, Indian Drugs Manufacturers' Association (IDMA).
As a result, first day of the complete lockdown in Ahmedabad saw several pharma employees commuting in their private vehicles asked to return to their homes while those commuting by company-run buses could make it to their establishments.
"We have made a representation to the state government regarding the same and we hope the on-ground implementation of the circular improves from tomorrow since the government has no intention of harming the industry," Shah added.
However, with several testing positive at Cadila Pharma, H G Koshia, Commissioner, Food and Drug Control Administration (FDCA), Gujarat said that the industry will have to maintain protocol to avoid further impact of the lockdown.
"Usually the entry and exit of all personnel at pharma units are strict and scientific including social distancing, complete check-ups and sanitization. Hence, this is an unfortunate event and as a responsible company Cadila Pharma has shut down the unit as a precautionary measure. The pharma industry will have to maintain all protocol since due to our intervention they have seen a rise in capacity utilisation from 30 per cent at the start of the first lockdown to now 80 per cent in many cases which is a big improvement," Koshia added.
Meanwhile, a Cadila Pharma spokesperson stated that the company had closed its operations and undertaken deep sanitization of the plant and its surroundings.
"We take this opportunity to reiterate that the safety, health, and well-being of our employees are of paramount importance to us. We are cooperating with the local administration at all levels to ensure the safety and security of our facility and surroundings. Being an essential industry, we remain committed to restore normalcy at the plant in consultation with authorities at the earliest," the spokesperson further stated.