Chandigarh, April 24 (Punjab Mail)- Assuring the industry of his government’s full support in these difficult times, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday directed the Department of Industries and the District Industries Centres functioning under the DCs to provide all industrial units eligible to reopen with requisite approvals, along with required curfew passes, within 12 hours of applying.

Captain Amarinder also assured them that he would raise the issue of Central support for industry with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the VC convened by the latter with all chief ministers on Monday.

At a Webinar participated by nearly 100 industry stalwarts, foreign ambassadors/diplomats and others, the Chief Minister said he had already requested the central government to find innovative solutions to support the industry in this difficult time so that they could continue to pay the labourers and workers. The industry cannot pay wages endlessly, he said, responding to the concern expressed by the participants on this issue.

Captain Amarinder lamented that the state was not getting its share from the Centre, which had also rejected its request for allowing liquor sales, leading to losses to the tune of Rs 6200 crore in revenue. The Centre has to compensate, he stressed, adding that he will raise these concerns during Monday’s Video Conference with the Prime Minister, and also again raise the issue of reopening alcohol business to generate revenue. Pointing out that Punjab was a small state, he asked how the Centre expected it to cope with the current crisis without GST and without liquor sales.

Addressing their concern on this count, the Chief Minister also conveyed to the industry the Government of India’s clarification that there would no penal action against any industrial unit if a worker is found infected with Covid. Responding to the industry’s concern in this regard, Captain Amarinder had earlier directed the Department of Industries to take up
the matter strongly with the Centre. Subsequently, the Home Secretary, Government of India, clarified that the guidelines do not mandate any penal action or filing of FIR in such cases.

The Chief Minister also assured the industry that there was neither any intention nor direction on the part of the Government of Punjab to impose any criminal liabilities on the industry and their CEOs for Covid-positive cases in their workforce. However, he urged them to follow all health and medical safety protocols laid down for checking spread of the coronavirus.

Terming the industry an integral part of Punjab’s fight against the Covid crisis, the Chief Minister has directed all departments to support and facilitate the permitted industries to reopen and commence operations, said an official spokesperson. Pointing out that industry could function as per guidelines if they provide food and shelter to workers, as per the Centre’s locked-in permission to operate, he also made it clear that all orders giving approval to industrial unit to operate must be sent to the labour, police and other concerned departments so that there is no harassment of industry.

Captain Amarinder urged the industry to immediately bring to the notice of the concerned DC or the Industry Minister and senior officers of the department any difficulty faced by them. If due to any supply chain problems any industrial unit cannot continue to function, they will be permitted to shut down operations even as the government will make all efforts to prevent such problems, he assured.

Describing Punjab as a forward-looking state, with excellence law & order and labour relations, the Chief Minister urged the industry to play a proactive role in partnering the state government’s vision for collective progress.

On the issue of procurement, the Chief Minister shared that the state was expecting a number crop this, with the procurement so far already double for this period as against last year. The state had urged the Centre to come out with a compensation scheme to support staggered arrivals in the Mandis to prevent the spread of the pandemic, he added.

Besides others, the webinar was also attended by Ambassadors of Italy and Denmark, Vincenzo de Luca and Freddy Svane respectively, Ishteyaque Amjad, Vice president, Public Affairs and Communications, Coca Cola India, Ajay Khanna Group Chief – Strategic & Public Affairs & Group Ombudsman, Jubilant Life Sciences Ltd,  Amardeep Singh Ahluwalia, Chief Corporate affairs officer United Breweries Ltd, and Raman Sidhu, former President and Founder Member of PAFI. Senior Punjab Officials, including CPSCM, Suresh Kumar, ACS industry, Vini Mahajan, ACS Development, Vishwajit Khanna, and CEO invest Punjab, Rajat Aggarwal, also attended the video conference meeting.