Govt should not only concentrate on lockdown, Agriculture and Industry will also have to be saved

Jayanta Debnath

April 16, 2020, 13:54:36   

The initial attempt to save the people by locking down on Corona's effect for a way out is undoubtedly a good initiative, but by no means the best. If we move forward by pointing this objection to the central point of this sentence, it can also be said that people can survive only if the country can. Otherwise, in the event of a lockdown only the country will remain, people won't be able to survive. If agriculture, industry, factories, service providers are not saved, nothing can be saved unless people engaged in them can cope with the great Covid-19 dangers that will befall the state’s economy.

In this Covid-19 situation, the Narendra Modi government deserves commendation from the very first day of lockdown for attempts to save people, as well as to save industries, factories and agriculture. But merely taking an initiative does not work. Implementation of its working principles at the state and domestic levels is also needed. This is not seen in most states. And this is not on radar in our small hilly state, Tripura too. 

Since the day-1 of the first lockdown on March 24 2020, the people of the State have been in compliance with the decision regardless of the caste-religion of the hilly state (excluding a small part), which is not only praiseworthy, it is also worthy of emulation. Especially, since the lockdown at the call of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and later on our Chief Minister Shri Biplab Kumar Deb, the way in which people from all parts of the state have stood together, regardless of their party politics, is an indicator of the high democratic and positive values ​​of the people of the state. So, in the lockdown situation in the state, no one died in the villages or hills because of starvation. Two sporadic suicides due to financial crisis had hit headlines but that happened just before the lockdown. 

One thing that is being widely said all over the world today is that lockdown can save some people now, but what happens next? Not only shops, schools, colleges, businesses, industries, factories are closed today due to lockdown agriculture related activities have also stopped. And thus, if the work on the farm is stopped or the production of small industries is stopped, it can be safely said more people will die from food crisis than fatalities from corona infection. Thus the looming threat is that if the essential industrial and agricultural activities are stopped, what the people will eat in the upcoming days because the continuing paralysis in agriculture and industry will completely unsettle distribution of food products. This question has already been raised by the people of Tripura too. Of course, in the field of agriculture and industry, some concessions are being heard. But question remains- is that  sufficient? 

Due to the lockdown all over the country, agricultural activities have stopped in Tripura too. Hundreds of tons of grain are being wasted in the field. In our small state of Tripura, also farmers are unable to go to their fields. The crops that were already planted can not make it home. Farmers were suffering from Lockdown restrictions on one hand and fear of epidemics on the other. And because of that today the hundreds tons of crop are being destroyed in the agricultural fields in Tripura. Lately, the state government has authorised the SDMs and DMs to issue passes to farmers to go to their field for harvesting or sowing but the main trouble is that most of the farmers will find it difficult to obtain passes from DMs or SDMs in district and subdivisional headquarters . It is therefore advisable that Penchayat or BLWs working at the local level may be authorised to issue passes to bona fide farmers. 

The same is true of small and large industrial companies' productions too. Due to lack of necessary workers, production has stopped. That is why many companies are afraid to open the doors of industrial factories in view of the more difficult situation in the coming days. 

On April 14 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi requested industrial entrepreneurs not to cut salary and not to terminate any worker or  employees in an industrial organization at this crucial time. It is true that the  owner of an industrial factory does not want his employees to remain  unpaid and factory to  close. But many times, many decisions have to be made to avoid difficult and real situations. Because of this, it is obvious many company will have to terminate  some of their employees and workers to save the factory or the company. But the reason for the workers and employees termination in the corona situation today is very different. The government itself by order stopped production of the factory. And due to the non functional nature of the company's operations, these situations arise.  

Therefore, the government has to take some responsibility for saving the industrial units, especially the MSME units so that no company terminates it employees and workers. The  government has also to understand, how the owner who runs a factory with a loan from the bank will pay the loan in these difficult situations? 

So owners of industrial factories and service providers are hoping that the Biplab Deb government may announce some special benefits to save  farmers, industries and especially small MSME factories across the state of Tripura. So here are some of the claims and demands that the farmers, owners of MSME factories, such as small industrial units of Tripura, have already made in various forums. 

1) Whether based on agriculture or manufacturing or Service Company or self-reliant entrepreneur, the state government will have to give special discount on monthly electricity bills, internet bills, water bills, pipeline gas, etc. for at least  the next six months to all the industrial units in Tripura.

2) If possible, the state government may consider bearing fifty percent of EPF and ESI dues payable by employers and employees of registered MSME companies.

3) Those who have established an industrial company with a loan from the bank, the interest money of the bank loan must be fully paid by the state government.

4) These companies will have to arrange fast loan with no guarantee for the next 365 days, with no interest or short interest.

5) To save the agricultural sector, MGN Rega workers may be allowed to work in the agricultural field as soon as possible.

6) Farmers need to be supplied with  fertilizers, seeds or any kind of plantation material for free. It may be given to anyone who wants it.

7) Different types of flower, fruits, and bamboo seedlings are  available in public private nursery. Those who need them may be supplied with the materials by the state government free of cost so that productivity increases.

3) The small, medium-sized contractors of Tripura, owners of industrial factories or various business establishments have to be paid  their pending  dues by the state government as soon as possible.

4) Above all, it is necessary to check the stockpile of goods and arrange for import immediately. Special discounts can be given on the import of these products by cargo aircrafts or freight rail if necessary. Otherwise, there may be a crisis in the essential commodity market in the coming days. 

As far as it is known, the Covid-19 managing taskforce of the Tripura government has already started discussing all these issues. But whatever the decision, it has to be taken quickly. Otherwise,  the food grain crisis cannot be prevented. As a result, more people will suffer from food crisis than those who suffered from corona virus disease and from fear in Tripura. Incidents such as  starvation, suicide will increase due to financial problems. 

Newspapers, cable TV, website media are also no less a private industry in the State of Tripura. At least five thousand people are associated with the industry. The lockdown has caused major blow to the media industry too. On the one hand, the decline in advertising at the government-private level, and on the other, the rise of news prints cost in the printing industry continue to make the stake holders suffer a lot. In this situation every media unit is struggling today. Paying monthly salary to their staff has become difficult. In this case, additional concessions that can be given to other industry units may also be given to the media units in Tripura too.

It is heartening that the state government has already started a process of consultation to resolve the crisis and suggestions are being given. The TIDC chairman Tinku Roy has taken a special interest in holding online consultations with entrepreneurs and knowledgeable people so that the crisis confronting industries can be diluted and resolved. 

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