A decline in COVID-19 cases nationally and a slight revival of demand in some sections of the economy amid the festive season, appear to have stirred hopes among businesses of economic recovery.
On Saturday, NDTV visited the Bulandshahar Road Industrial Area to take stock of how far the production work has revived in manufacturing units, the expectations local manufacturers have from the festive season and the suffering of industrial workers because of the pandemic.
The Managing Director of Toshi Automatic System Private Limited, Sanjeev Sachdev, has been producing high-quality automatic systems and automation products for industrial and commercial clients for more than three decades. On May 29th, 2020, when NDTV visited his factory, shortly after lockdown restrictions were lifted in the Bulandshahar Road industrial area, he was struggling to achieve 15-20 per cent of the normal production.
Months later, his business is slow but back on track. His industry has reached 70 per cent of the pre-Covid level, and he is expecting more demanding in the festive season.
"I can say upto 70% production has been revived. Almost 35 to 40 workers have come back to work. But there are still challenges. Challenges of liquidity, supply-chain repair and weak demand remain on the ground in several spheres. I hope the festive season will lead to improvement in demand and help revive industrial growth," he said.
But not everyone seems so optimistic in the industrial area.
A large number of industrial units have been struggling to survive because of failure to access credit to revive the business, supply-chain disruptions and the lack of demand.
NDTV comes across a bag manufacturing unit which has been closed since March, 2020, when schools and colleges had been shut by the centre to prevent virus transmission.
"Schools have been closed in the country since March. That is why our bag manufacturing factory is also closed. There is no demand for school bags now," Jamsher, who used to work in this factory, said.
"Many fellow workers have already left the factory. Factory would resume work only after the schools are allowed to reopen," he added.
NDTV also came across a group of industrial workers who are struggling to get work. They used to earn Rs 600-650 before the pandemic but now, they say, it is difficult to find even a day's work. Some say they work at lower per-day rates than before.
"In pre-COVID times, factory owners would offer us Rs 600 to Rs 650 per day to work and we would refuse because we had committed to work elsewhere. Now, they tell us to work at Rs. 250 per day! How will we spend money during the festive season? Now we try to save every penny we earn in this time when the prices of essential commodities are going up," Zoinuddin, a worker, told NDTV.
Fellow worker, Zabul, says, "There is very little work left now in Bulandshahar Road Industrial Area. Now we do not even earn enough money that we can save and send back home".
The industries in this area have been running but not at their full potential. The revival of production in industrial manufacturing units to Pre-COVID-19 level seems far away. Both - the workers and industrialists - however, hope that upcoming Diwali will spur demand and increase their earnings.