In what could be baby steps towards normalcy, amid the coronavirus-related lockdown, certain industries, including auto manufacturing, could be allowed to resume operations soon. The Ministry of Commerce has written to the Ministry of Home Affairs in this regard, with suggestions to widen the scope of activities allowed within the lockdown. In its letter, the Ministry of Commerce deemed the activities “essential to improve the economic activity (sic) and provide liquidity in the hands of the people”. At present, only essential services and industries involved in continuous production, such as power generation, are exempt from the lockdown.
In his address earlier today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an extension of the nationwide lockdown to May 3 but did mention conditional relaxation from April 20. Industries in areas with few coronavirus cases will likely be allowed to resume operations to begin with.
The Ministry of Commerce proposes big industries such as automotive manufacturing could commence operations with 20-25 percent capacity in a single shift. All industries will be required to adhere to social distancing norms and sanitization requirements.
The suggestions come as a bit of a bright spot for the Indian auto industry that has had a difficult few months. The coronavirus-linked lockdown came amidst a continued sales slowdown and a race against time to sell BS4 stock. India’s automakers ceased production over the month of March, before the nationwide came into force on March 23, 2020.
Whenever it is that the auto industry reopens, it sure won’t be business as usual.