Sunday, 22 March 2020

COVID-19: Bajaj suspends Chakan plant operations



PUNE: In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, Tata Motors has cut down operations at its manufacturing plant in Pune and may shut it down temporarily if the need arises, while two-wheeler maker Bajaj Auto has decided to shut down its corporate office and factory in Chakan, “in line with the local instructions.” Bajaj Auto has become the first automobile company in India to temporarily shut down its plant due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The maker of Pulsar branded motorcycles, Bajaj Auto is headquartered in Pune and banned international travel in February. “By early March, we had curbed all travel and implemented a work-from-home policy,” said Rakesh Sharma, executive director at Bajaj Auto. “Bare minimum manning will be maintained for essential services.”

Maharashtra has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in India, prompting the state government to announce an almost complete lockdown in Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune and neighbouring Pimpri-Chinchwad. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray ordered that all offices, shops and marketplaces, barring essential services will be shut till March 31.

Tata Motors’ Pune facility is located in the Pimpri-Chinchwad industrial belt. Commercial as well as passenger vehicles are manufactured there.

“In the interest of safety of our employees in the state, we have decided to rapidly scale down activities at Pune site to get to skeletal operations by end of Monday, March 23, 2020 and be ready for plant closure by end Tuesday March 24, if the situation warrants,” said Guenter Butschek, MD and CEO of Tata Motors. He said Pune operations will remain in this mode till March 31, after which things will be reviewed.

Furthermore, the company will continue to closely monitor the situation in other states where it has offices and plants and make “appropriate and proactive decisions” should the need arise, Butschek added. Tata Motors had already rolled out a “three-tier response plan” based on incidence of infection in cities it operates to safeguard the lives of employees. In addition to a strict protocol being followed at its facilities, a work-from-home policy has also been put into place for all office-based staff.
The novel coronavirus, which first emerged in China, has now rapidly spread across the world, killing thousands, and forcing governments to lockdown cities and even countries, to control the pandemic.

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