As Gujarat govt cuts supply of O2, forging industry groans

Business COVID-19

Rajkot: Gujarat’s forging industry has shut down their operations as the state government has restricted the supply of oxygen for industrial purposes.

Harsh Tilva, the owner of Shree Ram Forge, informed The Observer: “Operations at our factory have come to a grinding halt as the government has restricted oxygen supply. I recently established a subsidiary firm…. However, due to lack of supply, I am neither able to resume operations at my firm nor am I able to start operations at the new one. The restrictions have affected the profit margin by around 45 per cent.”

“We are managing orders from the excess stock maintained. However, if this situation prevails for a long term, we might run out of stock,” he added.

Prakash Dattani, another manufacturer, said: “The Gujarat government hasn’t imposed a lockdown. But we are facing a lockdown-like situation for the past one month. We aren’t concerned about profits, but we can’t even expect the usual earnings during this time. Our earnings have reduced by 90 percent in the past two years. We are on the verge of liquidation.”

Amid the fear of lockdown, migrant workers are returning home.

Mohammad M, a labourer, said: “As the factories are closed, we have sought permission from the owners to migrate to our homes. A few have already left in fear of another lockdown. The situation was a bit normal and the business was recovering. But the newly imposed restrictions pose a threat to our survival. We might again experience a salary cut or even get no salaries if a lockdown is imposed.”

Left with insufficient stock, manufacturers are unable to fulfill the demands of their customers.

Rakesh Soni, a customer said: “Since all the industries have put their operations on a halt, we don’t have much demand. Our demand for steel bearings has reduced to around 45 percent.”

Praful Morari, another customer, shared: “The demand is reduced. But the manufacturers are still unable to provide us according to our requirement. Earlier, I used to buy bearings from the same place. Now I have to purchase them from different manufacturers as one cannot fulfill my needs.”

Owing to a difference in purity levels of industrial oxygen, the suppliers are facing a financial crisis.

Hitesh Gorasia, owner of Giriraj Industrial Gases, said: “Although the government has asked us to divert the oxygen just for medical purposes, our business is affected by around 90 percent. The oxygen used in most industries is not of the same purity level as that used for medical purposes. Medical oxygen has around 99 percent purity. Industrial oxygen is not appropriate for medical use. Also, due to lack of raw materials provided by the government, we cannot deal with those gases. Moreover, the cases in Rajkot are declining, so the oxygen demand has also declined.”

“The government should provide at least 10-15 percent of oxygen to industries so that the businesses do not suffer financial losses,” he added.

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