The Clothing Manufacturers Association of India (CMAI), has appealed to the Maharashtra Government to avoid reimposition of lockdown, as another lockdown will completely kill the garment industry in the state. There are around 18,000 garment factories in Maharashtra, 10,000 of which are in Mumbai. The industry employs 1.3 mn people in Maharashtra.
“It is with a growing sense of unease that we are once again reading reports of the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra, and Mumbai in particular. Undoubtedly, this is a matter of great concern, and we compliment the Maharashtra Government for taking immediate and necessary steps to control the further spread of COVID-19. However, it is also disturbing to hear reports about the government contemplating reintroducing lockdowns as a means to control the virus,” CMAI President Rajesh Masand said.
Whilst it is essential to achieve the objective of controlling the spread, Masand urged that it is equally critical not to allow the economic recovery to once again collapse by shutting down the factories, which are the lifeline of the state.
The garment industry has been particularly severely hit by the pandemic last year – as retail, which is the lifeline of garment industry, was one of the last sectors to be opened up. It has taken the industry close to a year to regain at least some semblance of pre- COVID business levels. “Even now the industry, unlike many others, has just about touched 70 percent of pre-COVID levels. To go into another lockdown will completely kill the garment industry of Maharashtra,” the CMAI said.
It is to be noted that the garment industry is spread all over India, and it will not take too long for buyers to move to factories outside Maharashtra if production is not available in the state, Masand said. He pointed out that manufacturing in some of the other states is less expensive due to lower cost of production. In addition, the current GST regime also enables buyers of Maharashtra to buy from outside easily and at cheaper rates.
Moreover, it will also be impossible to get all the workers back once they have gone back to their hometowns, making the restarting of factories all the more difficult. “Shutting down of factories will impact not only workers from outside the state, but also the local workers,” Masand said.
Considering these factors, Masand urged the government to not look at reimposing a lockdown as an option. “Mumbai has been the hub of the garment industry of the country, and we have to ensure it continues to remain so.”