Industrial units in Haryana’s Bahadurgarh slowed down by farmers’ protest

With the transportation of raw material and processed goods taking a hit, most are running at less than half their capacity, many others are temporarily shut

Hundreds of industrial units in Haryana’s Bahadurgarh, the hub for India’s non-leather footwear manufacturers, are bearing the brunt of the ongoing farmers’ agitation at Tikri. Though a majority of the industrial units in this satellite town of Delhi are now running at less than half of their capacity, many are temporarily shut, with the transportation of raw material and processed goods taking a hit.

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Narinder Chhikara, senior vice-president, Bahadurgarh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told The Hindu that ‘Part B’ of the Modern Industrial Estate (MIE), housing around 1,600 units, including footwear, electronics, plastic, auto-parts and chemicals, was the worst hit. “Bahadurgarh has around 10,000 small and big industrial units in different sectors and almost all have been hit, with the transportation of raw material and processed goods affected, but the ‘Part B’ of the MIE, surrounded by a drain, the protesters and Delhi, bears the brunt. The units in this part are either temporarily shut or running at 30-35% capacity,” said Mr. Chhikara.

The footwear industry of Bahadurgarh stares at huge losses in case the agitation prolongs and the transportation of winter footwear is delayed further. Though industrialists are ready to pay extra to transport their finished products to the warehouses in Delhi’s Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar and Punjabi Bagh areas via the Kundli-Manesar Expressway to be despatched further, transporters are not willing to accept the goods since their warehouses are full. Mr. Chhikara said several internal roads connecting Delhi to Bahadurgarh, such as at Nizampur and Jharoda, were either shut or witnessed a huge rush of traffic.

Spread across the industrial areas of Bahadurgarh, including the ‘Footwear Park’, around 1,000 footwear manufacturing units employ over 2 lakh workers, most of them migrant. Though Agra and Kanpur remain the hub for leather footwear, Bahadurgarh footwear manufacturers have around 50% share in the country’s non-leather footwear industry.

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Rajesh Chug, owner of Sunflag Chemicals Private Limited, a manufacturer of paint drier, said both his units in MIE’s ‘Part B’ were running at almost one-third capacity. “We are running the units with a lot of effort, though many in our neighbourhood are now temporarily shut. The agitators have left a narrow passage, making it difficult for heavy vehicles to cross during the daytime. So the trucks carrying goods mostly ply at night. The export of our goods is also hit. We are unable to get fresh orders due to delays in despatch,” said Mr. Chugh. He added the workers also had difficulty in reaching the factory from Delhi and that attendance was almost 20% down.

Rajesh, a worker at a wood adhesive factory, said the unit had a dozen workers but it was temporarily shut for the past few days. “The owner has assured the payment of dues, but if the agitation continues, it might become difficult for him to pay without work for long. Earlier, he paid us during the lockdown as well,” said Mr. Rajesh, a resident of Chhotu Ram Nagar. He said the unit had taken a long time to recover after the lockdown induced by COVID-19, and now the agitation had led to a similar situation.

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