The Madras High Court on Thursday directed the State government to reply by Friday as to whether it would be possible to exempt from lockdown, the garment manufacturers and exporters having their units in Chennai, Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram and Chengalpattu districts.
Justice R. Subramanian posed the question on a writ petition filed by Apparels and Handloom Exporters Association representing over 400 major garment manufacturers and exporters who employ over 1.5 lakh people directly in their units spread in and around Chennai.
Appearing on behalf of the association, Senior Counsel P.S. Raman said the garment units had suffered a lot due to successive lockdowns imposed since March 25 and they began resuming operations only from May 4 after strictly adhering to the protocols related to COVID-19.
Members of the petitioner association suffered huge losses because all export orders catering to the summer season abroad had to be shipped between March and May. Those orders got cancelled because of the lockdown and especially because the garment export was seasonal in nature.
After May 4, the exporters were planning to manufacture garments required for the Fall collection clothing lines for which the manufacturing should go on for about three months from May to July so that the garments could be exported latest by August for the Fall season.
“It is at this juncture, the lockdown to be imposed in the four districts for 12 days from June 19 to 31 has come as a death knell to the garment exporters who would once again face the threat of suffering losses to the tune of several crore of rupees,” the senior counsel said.
He also stated that the repeated change in imposing of lockdown affects the image of the industry and frustrates foreign customers who might think that the industries in Tamil Nadu were unreliable and move on to place their orders with export houses in other States.