Over two-thirds of the workforce of NSEZ units return to work - Hindustan Times
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Over two-thirds of the workforce of NSEZ units return to work

BySanjeev K Jha, Noida
May 25, 2020 11:20 PM IST

As many as 21,867 workers have returned to their jobs and another 9,000 are working from home as on May 24, after the government granted permission for resumption of commercial activities in special economic zones (SEZs) and export-oriented units (EOUs), during the third and fourth phases of the ongoing nationwide lockdown from May 6.

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The Noida Special Economic Zone (NSEZ) units initially weren’t very successful in bringing back their workforce in the first week of May as only 2,000 workers of the total strength of 45,000, could resume their work.

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SEZ development commissioner (north India) Lalit B Singhal said bringing back nearly 31,000 of the 45,000, which is over 68%, in less than three weeks was a major achievement. “These numbers indicate that even during the crisis caused by pandemic, the NSEZ units are providing economic support to 30,000-odd families. I am sure that if the situation improves, then our units will run with at full strength by mid-July,” he said.

Singhal further said that apart from these 30,867 workers, as many as 83,000 others are also working from home as part of the IT units of NSEZ. “We have provided opportunity to young men and women of this region to work from home and support their families at this difficult juncture. Their services are also having a positive impact on export and creating more forex. To facilitate them, we had permitted companies to allow them to take laptops and desktops home. We have so far allowed around 45,000 laptops and desktops for them,” he said.

The development commissioner also said units operating in 34 SEZs of this region, covering Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, have made exports of 70,800 crore in the fiscal 2019-20. “In the same fiscal, these SEZs generated 3.8 lakh direct employments, besides creating over 10 lakh indirect jobs. The nationwide lockdown caused by Covid-19 has halted the operation and growth. But since we have restarted slowly but steadily, we are sure to regain momentum within two months,” he said.

Even units operating in NSEZ, are also hopeful of a quick revival. Ashish Pradhan, chief executive officer (CEO) of e-Shakti, a customised garment unit in NSEZ, said his company has already reached 50% of its pre-Covid capacity. “There were 1,430 staff members present on the eve of the lockdown. When we recommenced on May 7, we had about 200 employees back on the first day, which reached 724 on Saturday. I am expecting it to be over 875 (61% of our capacity) before the month is over. Since increasing manpower to optimum level is difficult, as factories have been asked to follow social distancing norms strictly, we will ask for more space in the NSEZ to overcome this problem,” he said.

Echoing similar views, Ajay Goel, president of NSEZ entrepreneurs’ association, said the quick turnaround has brought a lot of positivity and optimism to workers. “The lockdown will cause a loss of around 10% revenue this financial year. But, as our workers have started coming back to work and China is all set to face the crisis in the long run, we are all set to grow at 20% the coming financial year. Our workers are mostly migrants from Bihar and UP. As the agriculture sector at this time of the year does not provide occupation for many, they have started expressing an interest to return to work. Due to unavailability of transport, workers from Bihar are finding it more difficult to return as compared to their UP counterparts,” he said.

Anticipating things to be normalised by July-end, another NSEZ entrepreneur Tarun Matreja of Usha Fabs Private Limited said that due to lockdown, the NSEZ units could not fulfil the pending orders within the promised delivery period of 9-13 days. “However, we remained in constant touch with our customers informing them about delay in their orders. We are deeply grateful to thousands of our customers who chose to wait and not cancel orders. Now, we have shipped out more than 80% of these delayed orders,” he said.

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