Looking back 2020

Tough year for industry in Ludhiana

Covid-induced lockdown, labour shortage, farmers’ protest hit businesses hard

Tough year for industry in Ludhiana

Shivani Bhakoo

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 28

For the Industrial city of Ludhiana, year 2020 was certainly not a good year. The Covid-19 pandemic disturbed everything and brought bad luck for most of the industry here as businesses were badly hit. Be it the garment industry or auto parts or furnaces – majority of the industries was hit and the major reason was the pandemic.

Effects of Covid started from January

The effect of Covid-19 was started reflecting on the industry right from January when China and European countries got the virus. Flights were stopped, raw material stopped arriving, both imports and exports were badly affected. For about two months, industries were shut and many of the industrialists were not able to pay overheads/rents. Banks and governments were approached to extend a helping hand by exempting businessmen from interest on loans. World economy started coming under the grip of the virus and Ludhiana was no different. For normalising production, almost three-months’ time was wasted. Further, the government failed to extend any relief to the industries and the latter were forced to pay bank dues, salaries, bills, etc on their own.

Govt, industry failed to hold back labourers

As the lockdown was imposed, the industry failed to go ahead with production and it was hard to hold back the labour force both by the government and the industry. Free trains were run amid Covid for sending migrant labourers to their native places by the government. After the lockdown, when production was started, labourers took too much time to return as they lost “the trust” on the government and employers that they will not be given regular salaries and wages. They believed that they will remain “empty stomach” in the absence of work. But it was after a lot of cajoling by the Industry that the labourers started returning but on their own terms and conditions. Since the industry majorly depends on migrants only, labourers’ demands were accepted by many of the industries.

Farmers’ agitation added to the woes

The farmers’ agitation in the state further deteriorated businesses as the movement of trains was stopped. Shipments remained stuck at ports due to which the industry faced shortage of raw material and their orders were cancelled. At last, respite came when the movement of trains was allowed by the farmers, who never wanted to harm the industry. Traders and shopkeepers were also hit as stocks were neither coming nor going from the city due to the protest. The demand increased while the supply was hit.

Rise in bicycle production

Post the Covid-19 pandemic or during the virus threat, more and more people became health conscious. As gyms, health clubs, yoga centres were shut for long, people started purchasing bicycles for physical activity. Since imports from China and other countries were also affected, the local bicycle industry got a boost and manufacturers started getting bulk orders from both domestic and International markets.

From October onwards, the export sector also started getting a good response as China was badly hit due to its “poor” image in the global market. The steel industry earned a lot in the later months and broke past 10 years’ record. However, due to this the steel consuming industry manufacturing bicycle, fastener, hand tools, etc, was hit badly due to the high prices.

The auto sector was the most affected sector which performed much below average.

Bicycle industry got a boost

Post the Covid-19 pandemic or during the virus threat, more and more people became health conscious. As gyms, health clubs, yoga centres were shut for long, people started purchasing bicycles for physical activity. Since imports from China and other countries were also affected, the local bicycle industry got a boost and manufacturers started getting bulk orders from both domestic and International markets.

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