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Govt permits resumption of certain industries in rural areas from Apr 20


New Delhi: The government on Wednesday announced resumption of manufacturing activities in rural areas with certain conditions, from April 20, as it looks to revive the economic activities battered by the lockdown to contain Covid-19.

However, according to an order of the home ministry, these relaxations will not apply in containment zones which are demarcated by states, union territories and distinct administrations.

Both government and private industries and industrial establishments "operating in rural areas, i.e. outside the limits of municipal corporations and municipalities" will be allowed to operate, it said.

Activities which are allowed to operate include manufacturing and other industrial establishments with access control in special economic zones (SEZs) and export oriented units (EOUs) , industrial estate, and industrial townships.

These establishments will have to make arrangements for stay of workers within their premises as far as possible or in the adjacent buildings.

The transportation of workers to workplace would also have to be arranged by the employers in dedicated transport by ensuring social distancing.

Further, all industrial and commercial establishments, work places, and offices would put in place arrangements for implementation of specified standard operating protocol, before starting their functioning.

According to the listed protocol, the units will have to disinfect all areas such as entrance gate, office, cafeteria, canteens, meeting room, conference halls, building, equipment, lifts, washroom, toilet, walls and other surfaces completely by using a user-friendly disinfectant.

"For workers coming from outside, special transportation facility will be arranged without any dependency on the public transport system and those vehicles should be allowed to work only with 30-40 per cent passenger capacity," it said adding all vehicles and machinery entering the premise should be disinfected by spray mandatorily.

The protocol also includes mandatory thermal screening of everyone entering and exiting the workplace, medical insurance for the workers to be made mandatorily, provision of hand wash, sanitiser, preferably with touch free mechanism.

Other measures to be adopted are implementing a gap of one hour between shifts, staggered lunch breaks, social distancing, discouraging large gathering of meetings of 10 or more people, seating with at least six feet distance from others on job sites and in gatherings, meeting and training sessions, strict ban on gutkha, tobacco, and spitting, total ban on non-essential visitors at sites,among others.

Besides, the units will have to identify hospitals and clinics nearby which are authorised to treat Covid -19 patients and that list should be available at workplace all the times.

Further, it said manufacturing units of essential goods including drugs, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, their raw material and intermediates are also allowed to operate.

Food processing industries in rural areas, that are outside the limits of municipal corporations and municipalities, production units which require continuous process and their supply chain, manufacturing of IT hardware, coal production, mines and minerals production, their transportation, supply of explosives and activities incidental to mining operations are also allowed.

Manufacturing units of packaging materials, jute industries with staggered shifts and social distancing, and brick kilns in rural areas are also allowed.

"Before operating these relaxations, states, UTs, district administration shall ensure that all preparatory arrangements with regard to social distancing in offices, workplaces, factories, and establishments, as also other sectoral requirements are in place," it said.

"All facilities in the supply chain of essential goods, whether involved in manufacturing, wholesale or retail of such goods through local stores, large brick and mortar stores or ecommerce companies should be allowed to operate, ensuring strict social distancing without any restriction on their timing of opening and closure," it added.

It said vehicles used by e-commerce operators will be allowed to ply with necessary permissions.

These decisions follow the commerce and industry ministry's recommendations to the home ministry for partial resumption of economic activities in certain sectors.

The lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus was effective from March 25 till April 14, which has now been extended till May 3.

Industry and exporters were continuously demanding partial resumption of factories with limited workforce so that they can fulfil their order obligations and pay wages to workers.

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