Maharashtra COVID-19 curbs: Automotive companies keep plants running with limited workforce


The Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra government is allowing manufacturing units to continue production but with riders.

Representative image

Representative image

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Amid curfew-like curbs imposed under section 144 by the Maharashtra government to contain the spread of coronavirus, automotive companies have been allowed to continue vehicle production with a limited workforce.

Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), Tata Motors, Mercedes-Benz and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles had kept their vehicle and engine making plants operational on April 15 which marked the first of the 15-day lockdown period. All these manufacturers have their factories in the Pune district which is the worst affected district by COVID-19 in the state.

Says Rajeshwar Tripathi, Chief Human Resources Officer, Automotive and Farm Sectors, Mahindra & Mahindra, “In accordance with the ‘Break the Chain’ guidelines shared by the Maharashtra government, our plants are operational with lower levels of manning and following strict adherence to social distancing, hygiene protocols and safety, including compulsory testing for COVID at the plant and maintaining high standards of safety for our associates. All our offices in Maharashtra remain closed.”

M&M has vehicle making plants in Chakan, Pune, Nashik, and Kandivali in Mumbai. Tata Motors has plants in Pimpri-Chinchwad while Mercedes-Benz also has its plant in Chakan. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has a plant in Ranjangaon.

The Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra government is allowing manufacturing units to continue production which cannot be stopped immediately and cannot restart without considerable time requirement. However, only a maximum of 50 percent workforce at any given point of time will be allowed at the factory.

“Honouring and complying with the notification issued by the Government of Maharashtra, Mercedes-Benz India will be operating its manufacturing facility with reduced capacity and limited workforce, which is required for its process continuity and within the framework of the guidelines issued by the government,” said a Mercedes-Benz statement.

Earlier in the day Tata Motors, the third biggest passenger vehicle (PV) manufacturer in India, said, “Tata Motors is running operations at its Pune plant in strict compliance with the guidelines mentioned in the ‘Break the Chain’ order of the Maharashtra government. A limited number of employees are attending duties adhering to all safety protocols, distancing norms and hygiene standards.”

Auto company officials say that while operating with a smaller workforce will hamper output temporarily the industry can bounce back and make up for the production loss once the situation improves. However, the waiting period is expected to get longer because of these restrictions.

For Tata Motors, its highest-selling PVs such as Nexon and Tiago are made from its Gujarat plant while the Pune plant makes the Harrier and Safari models alongside trucks and buses. All of M&M’s models such as Thar, XUV300, Scorpio, XUV500, Bolero are made from the Maharashtra plants besides trucks.

Both M&M and Tata Motors are helping their eligible employees get vaccinated.

“So far, more than 90 percent of our eligible workforce including temporary and contractual associates, above the age of 45 years have been vaccinated. We have also established company-maintained quarantine centres for our associates at hotspots like Mumbai and Pune and we are providing for complete medical assistance where required, in collaboration with hospitals at all locations.”