They have suspended production for the last two months
Owners and labourers of stainless steel units in Othakadai say they have suspended production for the past two months due to lack of supply of oxygen cylinders.
The surge in COVID-19 positive cases has increased the demand for oxygen cylinders resulting in poor supply to the units. There are separate units in Othakadai for tinkering, welding and polishing, which employ around 3,000 people.
There are two types of stainless steel units in Othakadai. The tinkering units procure stainless steel utensils with manufacturing defects from factories in Mumbai and Jodhpur, rectify the defects and sell them throughout the State and in Karnataka. There are also other units that procure stainless steel sheets from Delhi and manufacture utensils.
All units require oxygen cylinders to make stainless steel vessels. However, the rise in COVID-19 cases has increased the demand for oxygen cylinders. As a result, these units could not procure oxygen cylinders for their production.
“With no income for the past two months, families of all labourers find it difficult to make ends meet. Many of them have borrowed heavily and are struggling to repay their dues,” says S. Malaikannan, president of Ever Silver Units Labourers’ Association.
The situation was grim even before imposition of complete lockdown, he adds.
In this scenario, a few traders are selling a limited number of oxygen cylinders at exorbitant rates, says N. Pandi, president of Yanamalaiyaan Eversilver Re-Manufacturers Association.
“Before this crisis, an oxygen cylinder sold at ₹350. But now, with the availability of limited cylinders, an oxygen cylinder is being sold at ₹1,500. The government must intervene to ensure that cylinders are not sold at such exorbitant rates,” he adds.
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