The economic slump is taking the sheen off Gurugram/Gurgaon, Faridabad and Panipat, the three major centres of industries in Haryana. Even employees working for multinational companies like Google in Gurgaon and Accenture have been served notices. Casual and contract workers were the first casualty. Thousands of them were sent back home with the assurance that they’d be called back once the situation improves. Union leaders claim that Demonetisation had led to the retrenchment of at least one lakh workers engaged in the garment industry alone.
But few of them have been called back. The future looks bleak for workers in the three cities with industrialists increasingly opting for automation, 3D printing and using mechanised robots on the shopfloor. Gurgaon alone has as many as seven mother plants of Maruti Suzuki, Honda and Hero Motor. There are also over 300 vendors engaged in manufacturing motor parts for these plants. It is estimated that vendors also outsource smaller parts and around 200 transporters are engaged in the area. Faridabad has plants of Escorts, JCB and Asian Construction, manufacturing tractors, earth movers and cranes. Escorts, which manufactured 7,409 tractors in July last year, is learnt to have produced only 4,899 tractors this July. Devendra Chouhan, a Mahindra tractors dealer, admits to a demand slump and claims that an estimated 40,000 workers have been laid off in Faridabad. Kuldeep Janghu, president of Maruti Kamgaar Sangh, points out that Maruti has shut down the plant for two days in September so far.
This, he says, is unusual just weeks before the festive season. While the slump has not yet affected permanent employees, contract workers and apprentices have suffered, he adds. Against 8000 apprentices that Maruti used to employ every year, this year’s intake is just 5000. The 3000-odd odd garment manufacturers in Gurgaon have also been hit hard. This is evident from the large number of ‘To Let’ signs in areas like Laxman Vihar, Rajeev Nagar, Vasai etc where the workers used to live on rent.
The real estate sector in Gurugram and Faridabad is also in doldrums with inventories having risen to 3.18 lakh units. As many as 171 housing projects in the two cities have been delayed and flats remain unsold. Niranjan Poddar and Animesh Saxena, both representatives of industry workers, blame government policies for the situation. High GST on tractors and motor spare parts is one reason for the demand slump. With farmers not getting loans from banks, the demand for tractors has gone down. And with the government withdrawing various subsidies and facilities from the garment industry and by making garments coming in from Bangladesh duty-free, the industry has collapsed, they claimed.