Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Saturday, Jul 30, 2005
Industry & Economy
Corporate - Trends
Small, medium units take a break
The normally crowded Marol MIDC junction wears a deserted look on Friday. Shashi Ashiwal
Mumbai , July 29
THOUGH the suburban railway line, arguably the lifeline of Mumbai, was up and running on most regular routes, the medium and small industries in the city remained functional only on paper.
The various industrial estates located in the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) zone had a distracted air about them, with more than half the employees remaining absent from most units on Friday.
The Ahura Centre at MIDC in Marol, which houses the offices of a number of Aditya Birla group companies - such as Hindalco, Vikram Ispat, Ultratech Cement, and Birla Sun Life - as also Tata AIG, HDFC, and Monsanto India, was representative of what ailed most of the units in that area.
"After two days away from work, some staff members checked in to see the situation today. The situation is still a far cry from normal as the lift is not working and the basement remains flooded and efforts to pump out water are yet to succeed. There is unlikely to be any change in the status at least till Monday," said an employee of one of the entities at Ahura Centre who wished not to be quoted.
While the BEST bus station located in the estate claimed to be operating its full fleet, there was no denying that it has not been carrying the full load as yet. Though many companies in the estate have their own buses, the normally busy Andheri East suburb, which also houses the Santacruz Engineering Export Processing Zone (SEEPZ), wore a deserted look.
Mr Satish Gavai, CEO of MIDC, said: "There are some 400 units in the Andheri MIDC region and it is difficult to estimate the damage suffered by them till they make individual claims. There is not much damage to the MIDC infrastructure. The Barvi waterworks run by the MIDC was inundated but it is almost back to normal today."
The MIDC office of Reliance Energy Ltd, under constant pressure over the last three days, was at the receiving end from irate domestic consumers who felt that they were not being attended to with the same alacrity as industrial units.
Mr R.V. Raman, a former employee of HMV and secretary of the Indralok Co-operative Housing Society located near the MIDC zone, said that Reliance Energy had no time for domestic consumers in the region.
"This is the third day running without sufficient power to pump drinking water for the 250-plus residents of the society. I have lodged four complaints with the utility but no action has been taken. I am aware that due to the flooding their services are stretched, but three days without any response is unacceptable."
Clearly, the writing is on the wall. The suburban trains and BEST may have started plying once again, but with the weekend so near,
Mumbai's industry would rather wait till Monday to get back into action.
Meanwhile, rumour mills were working overtime on the second day running, having already claimed 20 innocent lives in a stampede that broke out late last night.
If the story that spread across the suburbs on Thursday was about a dam breach and gushing waters thereof, today's mid-day canard was about a cyclone that was about to hit Mumbai.
With the State Government's decision to let its staff take another day off adding to the plausibility of the rumour, the city police commissioner was forced to refute it.
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